Telling the COVID-19 story for your great-great grandchildren

Central Valley Business Times

  • California Historical Society seeks personal stories of coping
  • “Stories can connect us, and they can help us see ourselves”

The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic will likely go into the history books as comparable to the so-called “Spanish Flu” of 1917-1923. The California Historical Society, which has troves of stories, newspapers and photos of that earlier deadly virus, hopes Californians will help it record to history of the current pandemic, which it calls a crisis of historic proportions.

“Modern historians have argued that history isn’t simply comprised of actions of remarkable or grand figures. The thoughts and experiences of everyday people are valuable keys to unlock what it’s like to live in any era,” the Society says.

To that end, it is creating a collection to document life in California during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want your stories, from the far north of the state, to the Bay Area, to the Central Valley and coastal communities, to desert areas, Southern California, and the border region, ” it says. “Stories can connect us, and they can help us see ourselves. They can shape future understanding and reveal aspects of our present world. Preserving your stories can reinforce that, together, we are the people making history.”

For more information and to participate:

Fresno State engineering students help make protective gear for health workers

Central Valley Business Times

May 4 2020

  • Work on masks just the start
  • “If time, complexity and resources allow, they will begin work on mechanical ventilator prototypes”

Engineering students, faculty and alumni from Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering have been working up to 10 hours a day in recent weeks to design and produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for Central Valley health care workers.

They plan to donate about 1,000 face shields to Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno.

Last week during Fresno State’s spring break, the team completed the final design and began production of the face shields — the first part of a three-phase, innovative project to support the community at a time when protective equipment is scarce for doctors, nurses and other health care providers.

“The second phase includes rapid prototyping and testing of an FDA-approved mask and the third phase includes powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs),” says Ram Nunna, dean of the Lyles College. “If time, complexity and resources allow, they will begin work on mechanical ventilator prototypes.”

Dr. John McClain, a pulmonary critical care fellow, and Dr. Eric Day, a second-year internal medicine resident with University of California, San Francisco’s Fresno branch of its School of Medicine located on the Community Regional Medical Center campus, contacted the Lyles College in March to discuss the anticipated need for custom-designed PPE.

“We need protective equipment that is cheap to manufacture and designed to meet the needs of our doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals while caring for patients during the coronavirus pandemic,” Mr. Day says. “We already have a critical shortage of providers in the Central Valley, so we are obligated to give our workers maximal protection to prevent exposure and illness.”

During the testing phases, Mr. Day took several different prototypes to Community Regional, where nurses and physicians in the intensive care unit wore the face shields for several hours to test the comfort. Students worked to refine the face shields for both comfort, sanitation and reuse.

The final design was developed by Shervin Zoghi, a 2017 mechanical engineering alumnus, with the help of several Fresno State students. The design is made of 3-D printed plastic, transparency film and Velcro. Both the frame and Velcro can be sanitized for re-use. The shield is made of transparency film, which is inexpensive and can be disposed of or sanitized after each use. A new shield can be easily loaded onto the frame.

“Shervin was the undergraduate Dean’s Medalist for the Lyles College of Engineering in 2017. His great entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to service and community and willingness to bring people together really made an impact in this project,” Mr. Nunna says. “He, along with support from our graduate and undergraduate students, Mandeep Singh, Saule Bomar, Noah Haworth, Timofey Volkov, Anderson Medina Guerrero and Jaklin Rowley, made a great design. As for Dr. Day, he might as well be MacGyver. He enjoys experimenting with technology and coming up with innovative ideas using parts from various systems and has been an excellent collaborator.”

The team plans to donate face shields to Community Regional and surrounding clinics in hopes it will help keep the region’s health care providers healthy.

“For a nurse in the medical ICU who is taking care of a COVID-positive patient, they could probably go through as many as 10 face shields in a 12-hour shift,” Mr. Day says. “We need as many as we can get.” Mr. Nunna says each face shield costs about $1.50 to produce, and the mask and PAPR units would cost more. Fresno State President Joseph Castro and technology firm DPS Telecom, under CEO Bob Berry, provided funds for all the materials used. The 3-D printers were collected from the Lyles College of Engineering, Henry Madden Library, Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and technology firm 5 Microns and were pooled for the manufacturing of the shields.

“We were able to access cost-efficient, existing materials. These materials combined with donated 3-D printers and simple machining have allowed our students to design and produce low-cost, quick turnaround PPE,” Mr. Nunna says.

In addition to affordability and comfort, the face shield is produced in a stackable design that aids in production efficiency – cutting production time by 15 percent to 20 percent. Civil engineering senior and project teammember Jaklin Rowley said the use of advanced technology like 3-D printers have made it possible to share design files and send them to anyone with a 3-D printer.

“This creates a unique situation for people all over to ‘hive’ manufacture a product that can greatly help the community,” Mr. Rowley says. “It is through technology that we have been able to stay connected through this pandemic. People from all over have learned to communicate and innovate from remote places. Without modern-day technology, the extraordinary community response to create these face shields would not have been so easily possible.”

The design is available for anyone with a 3-D printer to print from the open source website.

“This experience is invaluable. This project has allowed students to apply knowledge obtained from their education at Fresno State to real-world problems, work as a team with other disciplines and under tight time constraints,” Mr. Nunna says. “Students are interested in making an impact on the world, and this work enables them to do so.”

Plant sales increase as more people take on gardening

by: Kaile Hunt

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Throughout the Central Valley nurseries are deemed essential because they sale fruits, vegetables, and outdoor plants.

With numerous businesses temporary closed to stay at home restrictions, more and more people are turning to gardening swamping local nurseries with their business.

Geoffrey Callow works at Evergreen Nursery. He said for the past few weeks they have constantly had customers at their nursery buying fruit and vegetable plants.

“We have been swamped. We have been very busy but still doing what we can to keep the distancing measures in place and sanitizing things as much as we can but we have been busy selling tons of veggies,” said Callow.

Callow said since the coronavirus pandemic they can barely keep summer fruits and veggies on their shelves which is getting tricky to keep up with the growing demand.

“We get a shipment of veggies at least two to three times a week and a lot of the times like the squash and cucumber will sell out by the end of the day,” said Callow.

Callow said he believes since people are having to stay home they want to pick up some outdoor hobbies they can do while self isolating. So, gardening is the perfect thing to do.

Plus, while people stroll down their nursery looking at the different flowers and succulents it’s easy to stay six feet apart.

But, local nurseries are not the only ones having a problem keeping up with the high demand.

Many hardware stores are getting slammed in their gardening sections.

Elaine Kuramoto works at Fresno Ag Hardware. She said within the past week she has noticed a big uptick in plant sales.

“The biggest increase has been with the live plants and the soils,” said Kuramoto.

Kuramoto said fruit and vegetable seeds have been flying off of their shelves along with fertilizer, soil, and other planting essentials.

“Fertilizer all of the fertilizer,” said Kuramoto. “As soon as we put an order up it’s gone by the next day. It is just amazing.”

However despite the growing demand of outdoor plants and seeds hardware stores and nurseries will continue doing the best they can and ensure people get their hands on this hot items.

Plant sales increase as more people take on gardening

Virtual wine trail in Madera County brings community together

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) — With tasting rooms closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Madera County wineries are pouring virtually.

Madera County is home to a variety of wineries like Toca Madera Winery, which are now coming to you with virtual tastings.

“We’ve turned into a virtual winery basically. So virtual tastings on Instagram and Facebook on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 5. We do private virtual tastings and doorstep delivery has become our thing,” said Shayne Vetter, a winemaker for Toca Madera Winery.

Vetter says they’ve seen a lot of support from local wine drinkers. People purchase their estate wines, tune-in and drink up.

About five local wineries from Madera to Oakhurst are participating in the virtual wine trail.

“Even though you can’t be a tourist right now, you can be a virtual tourist and go to these places and go to wineries in a digital way,” said Brooke Smith with Visit Yosemite Madera County.

Idle Hour Winery in Oakhurst is doing tastings Friday nights on Facebook.
They make 15 different varietals.

“I miss seeing our club members, which is why these virtual tastings have become so important, so at least once a week, we can connect,” said Anne Marie dos Remedios of Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen.

Their customers are being delivered wine and keeping them in business.
Many wineries are offering free or low-cost deliveries or curbside pickup.

Toca is also doing private sessions on Zoom. Four bottles of wine are $75.

“We meet together on a time slot. I explain the wines, we talk about it and we have some fun and make some jokes and it’s a good time for everyone,” Vetter said.

The businesses are creating community over a shared glass of wine.

Winemakers hope to pour wine for the Madera Wine Trail in the first week of November.

Until then, here’s how to join a virtual wine tasting.

Fasi Estate Winery:

Toca Madera Winey:

San Joaquin Winery:

Quady Winery:

Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen:

Standing Tall Against the Surge-Sutter Health

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently unveiled a guide outlining when and how California may lift various coronavirus restrictions based on a set of six criteria, including hospitals’ ability to handle any potential COVID-19 patient surges. However, Newsom cautioned against moving too fast, saying “we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”

While social distancing guidelines and sheltering in place orders appear to be helping flatten the curve in California, we don’t know whether recently reported holiday gatherings for Passover or Easter that were outside these guidelines, may cause spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Integrated healthcare networks—like Sutter Health—have built-in support mechanisms that will help the network respond and take care of patients.

Sutter Surge Planning | Dr. Conrad Vial
Sutter Health’s integrated network of care is preparing for a potential increase in COVID-19 cases. Chief Clinical Officer Conrad Vial, M.D., describes planning measures which reflects our commitment to patients, employees and communities we serve.

“We chose healthcare because we want to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Conrad Vial, M.D., chief clinical officer for Sutter Health. “We have the privilege of doing this every day but it is even more apparent during this extraordinary time in our history. Everyone in our network is prepared to serve patients and our communities.”

Integrated networks like Sutter Health allow teams to shift quickly so hardest-hit areas can receive the necessary resources like personal protective equipment, ventilators and beds. Sutter’s surge planning efforts will allow the network to expand its critical care capacity by two to three times. This is thanks in part to having the access to the best-available statistical models and the benefit of lessons learned in areas experiencing high rates of COVID-19 including Italy, New York, Singapore and South Korea. For example, Sutter’s surge plan doubles its current ICU capacity through that the use of operating rooms, post-anesthesia care units and other spaces. While all 24 hospitals are capable of taking care of COVID-19 patients, it will also focus the first phase of critical care capacity at its six largest facilities: Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame as well Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento and Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

Sutter’s electronic intensive care unit (eICU) allows for monitoring a large number of critical care patients from a single location. The expansive telemonitoring program ensures intensive care unit patients in large cities and small towns have 24/7 access to a team of doctors and nurses specially trained in the care of ICU patients. From two central hubs, in Sacramento and San Francisco, these doctors and nurses help to monitor patients in intensive care units hundreds of miles away, using live interactive video, remote diagnostic tools and other specialized technologies to assess critical changes in a patient’s condition.

Supported by a comprehensive electronic health record, clinicians within the Sutter network can access vital information to care for 3 million patients. Similar to its ability during recent wildfires, Sutter can fill prescriptions, reschedule appointments and keep vital chemotherapy infusions on track, to ensure continuity of care for all our patients, even in the middle of a patient surge.

Additionally, to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 positive patients Sutter has:

• Postponed elective surgeries that can be safely postponed to free up supplies, staff and space;
• Increased supplies of PPE and essential equipment like ventilators;
• Set up surge tents to treat respiratory patients away from the general population;
• Created a COVID-19-specific advice line—1-866-961-2889— to triage patients before they’re seen in person;
• Increased video visit capacity to prevent sick patients from infecting other patients and staff;
• Established drive-through testing for patients who have a doctor’s order and meet criteria for testing;
• Utilized Sutter’s internal labor staffing pool, retraining employees and bringing in more advanced practice clinicians and travel nurses to support staffing needs; and
• Supported remote radiology so Sutter radiologists may interpret studies from home, increasing timeliness and access to imaging services. This can be especially helpful as critically ill patients may require chest CT scans.

“Our Sutter teams have devoted countless hours toward the rapidly changing environment this pandemic has created and we will continue to respond effectively and compassionately,” said Dr. Vial. “While we can’t predict the exact path of COVID-19, our commitment to staff and patients never changes.”

AMOR to break ground on $8M Mendota Health Center

AMOR is hosting a groundbreaking next week for its 20,000 square-foot, $8 million health clinic in Mendota. Image via AMOR.

Published On August 9, 2019 – 11:18 AM
Written By The Business Journal Staff

Fresno-based nonprofit AMOR (Alliance for Medical Outreach & Relief) is hosting a groundbreaking next week for a health clinic and neighborhood resource center in Mendota.

The two building, 20,000 square-foot clinic will provide youth, behavioral health and social services in addition to primary medical and dental care.

It will also include a day care, public food pantry, nutrition education, specialty care, violence prevention classes, substance abuse counseling and parenting education.

“Mendota, like many other rural communities across the county, has never had the medical, social and youth development services it needs to thrive,” said Davena Witcher, executive director of AMOR, in a statement. “The AMOR Wellness center is going to change this dynamic forever and thanks to our many partners, we are building a sustainable model for rural communities that will be duplicated across the country.”

AMOR’s new facility will house services provided by Marjaree Mason Center, Madera Community Hospital, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, Learn 4 Life, West Hills Community College, Centro La Familia and Turning Point of Central California.

The $8 million dollar project will also feature a community space that includes a community garden, outdoor basketball court, developmental playground and green space.

Expected to be complete by July 2020, the AMOR Wellness Center will be open to the public on evenings and weekends, and is designed to accommodate the working hours of farmworkers and their families.

According to a news release from AMOR, Mendota residents currently must travel more than 40 miles to the nearest hospital or specialty care clinic.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Aug. 16 at the corner of Belmont and Derrick avenues.

Fresno Hospital First in Central Valley to Use New Hybrid Operating Room


FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – The healthcare industry is constantly evolving and improving and community regional medical center is the only facility in the valley with two hybrid operating rooms able to perform highly complex, advanced surgical procedures.  But, it’s the team inside the operating room that really makes the difference. We got a first-hand look at what it takes and what it means for patients.

Alfredo Gomez is an interventional radiology technologist who’s worked in the hybrid operating room since 2014.  The room is a combination of a traditional operating room and an image guided interventional suite– providing all the necessary capability and personnel in one space.

“So, the hybrid part is we’re not stuck to one modality.  So we can accommodate neurosurgery, vascular surgery and cardiac services also.  So we kind of do a little bit of almost everything. So, from head-to-toe if you have some kind of need, we can pretty much assist and take care of you,”  said Gomez.

These spaces allow for a smooth transition from a minimally invasive procedure to an open surgery procedure if needed.

“Every case is different, you know, nothing is ever straight up. We had what was supposed to be an easy routine diagnostic case that turned into a stroke for whatever reason and everybody in the room has to be you know, aware of what’s going on because you have to completely change the room over to be able to do an intervention versus a diagnostics,” Gomez said, “It’s beneficial for the patient because it saves them time in the hospital for one because now you’re not prepping for three procedures.  You prep them for surgery and then you can — it’s a one stop shop. So it shortens their length to be in the hospital, you can go home faster, faster recovery time.”

The flexible design and presence of multi-disciplinary resources allows staff to perform procedures safely and efficiently.  Gomez is one of only four hybrid IR techs at Community…highly-trained to work in the hybrid OR and neurosurgery supervisor, Joyce Interno at Community Regional says the role requires a special skill set.

“We gather all the skilled and finest hybrid IR tech.  They’re trained and they have these unique special skills that I believe they’re the only one who got it.  Because knowing the anatomy of different kind of service line, the techniques, the procedure itself, is already complex, but having all this packed in one, hybrid O-R tech is very specialized–it is a fulfillment for us, knowing that we can serve and provide this safe, patient care to all of our patients and to our family and family and friends here in the Valley.”

“Being able to work in this environment, I know they’re getting top notch treatment because I’ve seen it first hand, from getting a stroke out in seven minutes — you know that’s fast,” Gomez said.

Fresno Cancer Center Earns ‘Astro’ Accreditation

The Fresno Cancer Center has earned the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s Accreditation Program for Excellence designation. Image via Fresno Cancer Center Facebook

Published On January 14, 2020 – 10:45 AM
Written By The Business Journal Staff

The Fresno Cancer Center has received a prestigious accreditation given to less than 5% of such facilities in the U.S.

The American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO) Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx) can take up to a year to complete and focuses on five “pillars” of patient care. These include the process of care, the radiation oncology team, safety, quality management, and patient-centered care, according to a news release.

Fresno Cancer Center was one of three such facilities in the state to recently achieve APEx status, along with Rohnert Park Cancer Center and South Sacramento Cancer Center. The three centers comprise the practice of US Cancer Management Corp. (USCMC), which operates the facilities.

“By undergoing this comprehensive review, the facilities demonstrated a strong commitment to deliver safe, high-quality radiation oncology services to their patients,” said Theodore L. DeWeese, MD, FASTRO, chair of the ASTRO board of directors.

ASTRO bills itself as the “premier radiation oncology society in the world” whose members include 10,000 physicians, nurses, radiation therapists and more who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies.

Jeremy Mann, chief operating officer of USCMC, said, “We are extremely pleased to be awarded APEx accreditation. We are proud of the efforts of all of our staff to provide the absolute pinnacle of care to our patients and are appreciative of the recognition we have received from ASTRO.”

Central California Blood Center starts experimental treatment to fight COVID-19

KSEE24 & CBS47 Partner with Central California Blood Center for Founder's Day of Caring

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – The Central California Blood Center announced that they will be the first blood center in the United States to produce pathogen-reduced plasma from patients who have successfully recovered from the Coronavirus.

The Blood Center said people who recover from the Coronavirus infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood.

The experimental treatment is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used on an emergency basis.

Transfusing the plasma that contains the antibodies into a person still fighting the virus can provide a boost to the patient’s immune system and potentially help them recover.

“We look forward to being able to safely collect, process and pathogen-reduce these plasma donations, by following approved FDA guidance, OSHA safety standards and the very latest scientific evidence suggesting this could save lives, we’re looking to make rapid progress through approved research and specially FDA emergency-authorized use to fight against COVID-19.”


The Central California Blood Center said they are working closely with Cerus Corporation, the Fresno County Department of Health and local hospitals to identify people who have recovered from COVID-19 to be potential donors.

According to the Blood Bank, these potential donors will need to meet all standard FDA blood donation requirements, plus pass additional FDA criteria, including:

● COVID-19 convalescent plasma must only be collected from recovered individuals if they are eligible to donate blood.

● Required testing must be performed and the donation must be found suitable

● Prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test.

● Complete resolution of symptoms throughout at least 14 days prior to donation and having a negative test for the virus post recovery.

● As with all transfusions, the donor and the patient will need to have compatible blood types

● Physicians wanting this product as it becomes available can join an established investigational protocol, approved by FDA or apply directly to FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.

Local hospitals and medical professionals should connect with the Fresno County Department of Public Health with any referrals to safe donors.


Irma Olguin Jr. speaks to the press in June, with co-founder Jake Soberal appearing via teleconference from Bakersfield, on the announcement of their Kern County expansion. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz

Published On March 27, 2020 – 2:57 PM
Written By The Business Journal Staff

The CEO of Bitwise is putting out a call to hire more than 100 temporary data entry contractors who will work from home.

Irma L. Olguin Jr. said in a Facebook post Friday afternoon that the workers would support efforts of Bitwise Industries, its web development arm Shift3 Technologies and mobile restaurant ordering app Ordrslip in “building things to help feed the elderly, save restaurants from going out of business and to help folks who’ve lost jobs regain employment.”

“These are big, big tasks,” Olguin said. “Big tasks require lots of information.”

The temporary (“could be days or weeks”) positions would be 40 hours a week and pay $15 per hour. Employment would be on a contract basis. Applicants must have their own computer, reliable Internet access and be able to type at reasonable speed, Olguin said.

To apply, Olguin said to send an email to, include your name in the subject line “and your BEST PG-13 joke in the body.” An auto-response email will give further instructions.