FIT 4 THE CAUSE™ Fitness Flash Mob Non-Profit Achieves 501(c)(3) Status

New non-profit accelerates at Superhero speed
501(c)(3) status, board, celebrity advisors secured in 90 days

FIT 4 THE CAUSE™, a non-profit that combines social media-fueled flash mobs with fitness education and philanthropic giving, recently received its 501(c)(3) non-profit determination in only 90 days!

Founder, Chair and President Cindy Rakowitz has parlayed that momentum by securing a board of directors that includes celebrities FOX Sports broadcaster Tomm Looney, actor and director Paul Michael Glaser and actress/stuntwoman Caryn Mower. Neurological specialist Dr. Lorne Label - previously chief of staff of the Los Robles Medical Center and Clinical Professor of Neurology at UCLA has also joined to its Board of Directors.

PR Guru and Author Rakowitz, who recently received her ACE (American Council on Exercise) Certification indicates “Now we are poised to operate a serious, successful strategic business.

FIT 4 THE CAUSE™ raises money and awareness for local and national health needs by staging flash mob-style group exercise programs led by professional instructors and live DJs. Participants and spectators are encouraged to donate to the designated cause. Since each event features unique themes, diverse exercise disciplines and a variety of health related causes, FIT 4 THE CAUSE™ guarantees a unique educational experience complementing the traditional gym workout.

Past events have raised $2,500 in one hour for Cancer Support Community VVSB thanks to a corporate match from host WellPoint Anthem Blue Cross, $1,000 for a local Thousand Oaks man suffering complications from Type II Diabetes and $1,200 for a 2 year-old girl who is fighting Lymphoma. This quarter’s schedule includes a cardio kickboxing style H

Read More

Ventura County Public Health First in California to Receive National Accreditation

Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) announced today that it has achieved 5-year national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). VCPH is the first public health department in California to earn this important distinction.

The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s more than 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To receive accreditation, VCPH underwent a voluntary rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures.

"I couldn't be more proud of the VCPH team for helping us achieve this extraordinary accomplishment,” said Rigoberto Vargas, Ventura County Public Health Director.  “The accreditation process, which took more than two years to complete, is a testimony to our department’s hard work, dedication and ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.”

Public health departments play a critical role in protecting and improving the health of people and communities. In cities, towns, and states across the nation, health departments provide a range of services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors; preventing diseases and injuries; creating safer neighborhoods; administering life-saving immunizations; and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

“I want to congratulate Ventura County Public Health on receiving national accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, California Department of Public Health director and state health officer.  “Accreditation is a distinction which means that the Ventura County Public Health department meets nationally accepted standards.  Many public health departments nationwide are preparing for accreditation but only a handful have actually achieved accreditation.  Ventura County is truly ahead of the pack.”

VCPH employs approximately 300 people, operates four clinics and seven Women, Infant & Children (WIC) centers and, frequently collaborates with medical providers, schools, businesses and community partners to mitigate health disparities and improve community access to care.

The national accreditation program was created collaboratively over a 10-year period by hundreds of public health practitioners working at the national, Tribal, state, and local levels. Since the program’s launch in September 2011, nearly 130 health departments have applied to PHAB for accreditation, and hundreds of public health practitioners from across the nation have been trained to serve as volunteer peer site visitors for the program.

To learn more Ventura County Public Health, visit and to learn more about PHAB or sign up for the PHAB e-newsletter, visit

Ventura County Public Health Provides Advice - First Flu-Related Death of the 2013-2014 Flu Season

Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County Health Officer, announced today that Ventura County’s first flu-related death has occurred. A resident, under 65 years of age, died after having been hospitalized with the complications related to the H1N1 virus. The victim had other underlying conditions which may have put him at risk for severe H1N1 illness.

 “Flu, including the H1N1 strain, is on the rise throughout the state and, over the past week, influenza-related deaths have increased by 50 in California,” said Dr. Robert Levin, VCPH Health Officer. So far this season, the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) has confirmed 95 flu-related deaths statewide.

In Ventura County, there have been 23 flu-related hospitalizations so far this season with six patients requiring treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). With the exception of the one death, all other ICU patients have been released from the hospital. During the 2012 – 2013 flu season, Ventura County had three flu-related deaths.

“The peak of the flu season usually occurs in late January through February, so there is still time to benefit from a flu vaccine,” said Levin. According to the CDPH, influenza vaccine remains available and there is no widespread shortage of anti-virals for treatment of the flu.

An annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. It is also important to practice the three “C’s” of illness prevention in an effort to prevent the spread of germs:

  • Cover your cough
  • Clean your hands
  • Confine sick people at home

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please call your healthcare provider:

  • A fever higher than 100 degrees and a cough and/or sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Have had contacts with a confirmed influenza case
  • Are in a high-risk setting for transmission (e.g. school, prison, camp or other residential institution)
  • Are a part of a cluster of influenza-like illness or symptoms

People experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.

For a list of Ventura County flu-shot clinics, visit the Ventura County Public Health’s website clinics page: For more information about where to get a flu shot, call VCPH Clinics at: (805) 981-5221.

Ventura County Public Health Encourages Residents to Get Flu Shots

Ventura County Public Health keeps watchful eye on influenza activity, encourages public to get flu shots

In response to Kern County Public Health reports confirming that eight Kern County residents have been diagnosed with severe 2009 influenza A (H1N1) influenza that required hospitalization, Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) officials have been keeping close tabs on flu activity in Ventura County. Several Kern County flu patients have been placed in the intensive care unit and, in some cases, have required support on a ventilator. Kern County borders Ventura County to the east.

So far, flu activity has been relatively low in Ventura County with only two patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of H1N1 and one patient hospitalized with a suspected H1N1 case. Because flu season generally does not peak until January or February, VCPH officials are encouraging anyone who has not yet received an annual flu shot to do so immediately. Most years, flu shots are especially important for the most vulnerable - the very young, very old and those with chronic illness. Because the H1N1 influenza is different from the average flu virus and tends to hit young, healthy people through middle-aged adults harder, it is very important that everyone be vaccinated this year.

“The 2013 – 2014 flu vaccine is a good match for the viruses that are currently making people sick,” said Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County Health Officer. “This year’s shot includes the 2009 H1N1 strain, which is responsible for 97.7% of all flu illnesses so far this season.” According to the CDC, influenza and related complications are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States and influenza was associated with an estimated 381,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. last year. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women.

Although the flu typically causes the most severe cases in children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, during the 2009 worldwide pandemic, young, healthy people were impacted in greater numbers by the H1N1 virus. That year, the flu caused more illness in children and young and middle-aged adults than in older adults.

“Being vaccinated will reduce your chances of catching H1N1,” said Levin. “In addition, if you do get H1N1, the vaccine will help lessen the severity of your illness.”

For a list of Ventura County flu shot clinics, go to: clinics and click on the red “Get Your Flu Shot” button for the January and February schedules.

For more information on the 2013 – 2014 flu season, visit

Ventura County Reports First Frozen Berry-Related Case of Hepatitis A

Ventura County Reports First Frozen Berry-related Case of Hepatitis A

As previously reported, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has warned consumers not to eat Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold through Costco stores, and possibly other retail outlets, as they have been linked to a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A infections.

Ventura County now has its first documented case of hepatitis A associated with the frozen berry blend.  The affected individual is a male who used the product in preparing a smoothie. He has been ill at home for about 2 weeks and has not required hospitalization.

He is among over 40 cases that are being investigated nationwide. Three of these individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.  In California, seven confirmed illnesses in persons who consumed this product have been reported from Humboldt, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino (2), San Diego, and now, Ventura counties.

People who are immune to hepatitis A are not at risk for getting this infection after exposure to the berry mixture product.  Immunity can come from previous immunization, which has been recommended as a part of the routine immunization series for children in California since 1999, or from a prior hepatitis A infection.  Many people who were raised outside of the United State will have had hepatitis A infection as a child without having had any symptoms.

Consumption of the Townsend Farms frozen berries that have been cooked or baked will have inactivated the hepatitis A virus and will therefore not make someone ill.

In the 3 weeks prior to being removed from the shelves, the Ventura County Department of Public Health believes about 400 packages of the berry mixture were sold to Ventura County residents. Ventura County Public Health advises if you have this product in your freezer, please discard it.

Costco removed this product from stores as of May 30 and is notifying their member customers who have bought this product.

Ventura County Public Health is working with the California CDPH to provide further guidance for the public and clinical providers, and will release new information as it’s warranted.

Symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection include fever, fatigue, loss

Read More

Ventura County Public Health Reminds Residents to Avoid Wildfire Smoke

Ventura County Health Officials Warn Residents to Avoid Wildfire Smoke

Smoke and ash from the Camarillo Springs fire are affecting air quality in Ventura County. Due to the combination of high winds and the spreading blaze, smoke and ash are currently present in the air and may pose a health threat for some individuals.

Smoke and ash irritate the eyes, nose and throat and may be harmful to breathe but, according to Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) officials, not everyone who is exposed to thick smoke will have health problems.

“The level and duration of exposure, age, individual susceptibility, including the presence or absence of pre-existing lung or heart disease, and other factors play significant roles in determining whether or not someone will experience smoke-related health problems,” said Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County Public Health Officer.

In areas near or downwind from the fire that are impacted by blowing dust, smoke and/or ash, VCPH officials urge people to exercise caution and remain indoors. Residents should stay inside their homes, bring pets inside, keep windows and doors closed, use air conditioners on the recycle or re-circulate mode and avoid vigorous physical exertion both indoors and outdoors. At the first sign of discomfort, individuals should relocate to another area that is smoke-free.

Residents who develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, exhaustion, lightheadedness or chest pain with decreased activity are advised to stop all activity and seek medical attention. This is important not only for people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been diagnosed previously with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.

The onset of the California fire season reminds us that it is important to have enough food, water and medication on hand to last five days. Foods stored for use during the fire season should not require cooking, since cooking can add particles to indoor air. 

For more information about the health impacts of wildfire smoke, go to: and for Ventura County air quality reports, visit

The Healthy Place Nutrition Wellness Center in Thousand Oaks Opened in June

A CVG friend who happened to be running down Moorpark Road last month alerted me to a new business at 540 North Moorpark Road (near the corner of Moorpark and Wilbur, to the left of LensCrafters), The Healthy Place. It took me awhile to make it over there, but today was the day.

I had just run a 10K in the heart of the San Fernando Valley on a day where the temperatures during the early morning race were in the 80s and by 11am it was well into the mid-90s. The 10K zapped all my energy and basically drained me. I was about to head home for a nap when I thought hey, now's the time to check out that new place!

Not knowing what I was getting into, I assumed it was something along the lines of a Jamba Juice. Order your smoothie, pay and be on your way. But soon I learned The Healthy Place is much more than that. Their 16 oz "healthy meal smoothies" are low sugar, low fat, low calorie, non dairy, high protein (25 grams or more), high fiber and available gluten or soy-free.

They say these smoothies made with Herb

Read More