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by Joyia Emard

DCA Director Waives Requirements for Veterinary Telemedicine and Prescription Refills

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) issued new waivers regarding the veterinarian-client-patient relationship to give pet owners more options when seeking treatment for their pets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The waivers authorize veterinarians to diagnose and treat new or different animal medical conditions via telemedicine in cases where a veterinarian-client-patient relationship is already established; and prescriptions can be refilled for six additional months without another in-person examination.

“We’ve heard from veterinarians that people aren’t taking their pets in for much needed veterinary care because of the fear of potential exposure to COVID-19,” said DCA Director Kimberly Kirchmeyer. “With these waivers, pet owners will be able to have their pets examined via technology and have prescription refills extended.”

Another waiver released today helping veterinarians removes “face-to-face” training requirements for applicants that are already licensed out-of-state and for temporary licensees. Training may now be conducted via appropriate electronic means.

Other waivers that have recently been issued by DCA include:

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services – For private investigator, private patrol operator and alarm company agent licensees with a firearm permit expiring between March 31 and May 29, 2020, the order waives the requirement that they complete a fourth (of four) training course, examination and firing range requalification, subject to the condition that they must make up the waived requirements within 60 days of the waiver order.

Occupational Therapy Board – For individuals who complete the education and experience requirements necessary for licensure between March 31 and June 1,2020, it extends by two months (to six months) the period within which such persons must apply to take the licensing examination in order to qualify for a limited permit; and for individuals issued a limited permit between March 31 and June 1, 2020, it extends by three months (to six months) the validity of such permits.

Hearing aid dispensers – Extends by six months the temporary and trainee licenses expiring between March 31, 2020, and September 30, 2020, to enable the licensees to take the examinations that have been canceled as a result of COVID-19.

Board of Behavioral Sciences – Extends by 90 days the period that students studying to become licensed marriage and family therapists can continue counseling clients even though they are not currently enrolled in a practical training course. Another waiver would waive the law and ethics examination for re-registration of specific license types.

The director also issued waivers extending DCA Waiver DCA-20-03 Nursing Student Clinical Hours and DCA Waiver DCA-20-07 Division 3 Continuing Education for an additional 60 days.

The waivers are issued as the Director exercises the authority under Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Orders N-39-20, N-40-20 and N-66-20. The Department of Consumer Affairs is working hand-in-hand with its healing arts licensing boards to determine which licensing requirement waivers would allow individuals to continue assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic while at the same time maintaining consumer protection.

A list of current waivers can be found on the DCA website.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is a consumer protection department under the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and has been working closely with other state departments and stakeholders to respond to and protect all Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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You Have Questions? We've Got Answers!Article authored by Matt Woodcheke, Consumer Connection staff
Question: I want to make my funeral arrangements in advance, but I’m not sure if I should pay in advance. Can you help?

Answer: Prepaying spares your survivors the burden of arranging payment while planning your funeral. It also keeps you in control of the costs and ensures that your wishes can and will be carried out. Prepayment methods include life insurance, funeral insurance, funeral trusts, and bank-held trusts or savings accounts. You may wish to consult an attorney and Medicare or Medicaid, if applicable, before you decide whether to pay for preneed expenses up front.

This is a personal decision that is completely up to the consumer. To avoid a large lump sum payment, some establishments offer payment plans for preneed arrangements. But remember, any arrangements (signed contracts, etc.) or end-of-life decisions should always be shared with your loved ones so that when the time comes, they know where to find the information to ensure that your wishes are followed.

The Cemetery and Funeral Bureau offers a guide to planning your arrangements in advance at its website, www.cfb.ca.gov.

Got a question about your contractor, dentist, doctor, cosmetologist, or one of the many other professionals licensed and regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)? Maybe you’d like to know more about how DCA helps consumers make wise purchasing decisions by informing them about the laws that protect them? Now is your chance to ask!
Submit your question via email to publicaffairs@dca.ca.gov and it may be answered in a future issue of Consumer Connection. Please note: We are not able to answer questions regarding the status of a license application, complaint, or investigation. Some questions have been edited for clarity or brevity.

Like this article? Check out more consumer news in the latest issue of DCA’s Consumer Connection magazine!
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As many cities across California slowly reopen for business, the thought of a COVID-19 resurgence lingers. The buildings we are all returning to were not designed with social distancing in mind.

Architects and engineers have a new challenge on their hands with a strong focus on infection control. Not only will they need to design for sanitation, health, and safety, but they also must implement new retrofits for small buildings, high-rises, and skyscrapers to limit occupants’ exposure to diseases.

“At a minimum, we will see protective plexiglass dividers that will still allow visual openness, but greater health protection. Also, we will revisit HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning] system design to help prevent any future spread of viruses,” said Robert Chase, an architect consultant with the California Architects Board.

The need to touch surfaces to open doors and turn on faucets has caused a fundamental flaw in building design, giving popular areas a perfect breeding ground for germs.

The pandemic has prompted calls for new building codes by public health officials. Re-thinking technology will be necessary to keep people from spreading viruses.

The Bathroom

Many buildings have already been designed with touchless toilets, soap dispensers, faucets, and paper towel dispensers, but they often fail. Upgrading hands-free technology will be needed as well as adding more features to improve hygiene. This would include self-cleaning stalls and sinks and strict requirements for bathroom attendants to give more attention. This technology can also be translated into opening doors and using buttons. “We will see a completely hands-free operation of all elements. Doors can be set up to allow a foot to open them. And again, greater filtration in our HVAC systems,” said Chase.

The Need to Expand and Contract

Many communities had a desperate need for more hospital beds when COVID-19 cases peaked. Separating patients with symptoms from ones without also posed a challenge. California architects and engineers have been working on designing a more sufficient system for hospitals. One idea includes producing temporary hospital spaces that meet all standards. These modules can be set up within 14 days or less, then disassembled when not needed.

Repurposing Our History

With millions of Californians now working from home, telecommuting has become a new normal. This could result in empty buildings and devastate many local economies. Communities are looking into reusing structures that once held thousands of people during work hours. Architects and engineers are working on plans to reconfigure spaces with meaningful designs that can meet critical needs. “there is more discussion about using these types of buildings for housing, particularly affordable housing. And particularly if they are on bus lines or near affordable housing,” said Chase.

Empty spaces can also be used to increase access to medical facilities and build schools with safety and social distancing in mind.

Redesigning and repurposing structures during the pandemic might not be enough to spark a new architectural era, but in a few short years, new concepts and innovative safety guidelines could result in building designs like never seen before.

If you are looking to hire an architect or engineer to build a new structure or retrofit an existing one, you can check to see if they have a valid license by visiting the California Architect’s Board at https://www.cab.ca.gov/ or the California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists at https://www.bpelsg.ca.gov/.

 

 

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A female certified public accountant reviews a ledgerLongtime licensed profession makes sense of finances

California has been licensing certified public accountants (CPAs) since 1901. But what do they do, how can you become one, and why does state licensure matter?

Accounting as a profession has been around for thousands of years, since the concepts of counting, writing, and money first began in Mesopotamia. But the need to keep accurate track of finances never goes out of style. In fact, there are nearly 99,000 CPAs licensed in California—the largest group of CPAs in the nation—helping numerous individuals and organizations with various needs.

While the day-to-day responsibilities of a CPA will vary, typical duties include:

  • Examining financial statements to ensure they are accurate and comply with generally accepted accounting principles.
  • Computing taxes owed, preparing tax returns, and ensuring taxes are paid in the proper amount and on time.
  • Inspecting accounting records and systems for efficiency and use of generally accepted accounting principles.
  • Organizing and maintaining financial records.
  • Assessing financial operations and recommending improvements to reduce costs and increase revenues.

For more than a century, the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) has licensed CPAs who meet the requirements under state law. The CBA also enforces professional standards by reviewing consumer complaints and conducting investigations of its licensees.

The requirements have changed over the decades, but to be licensed as a CPA in California today, applicants must:

  • Pass the national Uniform CPA Examination.
  • Complete a bachelor’s degree, including at least 150 semester units and other required coursework.
  • Obtain 12 months of qualifying accounting experience.
  • Pass the California Professional Ethics Exam.

The requirements to obtain a CPA license are high, but important to help ensure that licensees have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to perform their work. Becoming a CPA, however, can provide a person with numerous personal and professional benefits. According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, here are the top five reasons to become a CPA:

  • Prestige and respect.
  • Career development.
  • Career security.
  • Job satisfaction.
  • Money and benefits.

To learn more about becoming a CPA in California, visit the CBA’s website at www.dca.ca.gov/cba; to check a CPA’s license, visit search.dca.ca.gov.

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The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) announces the appointment of Loretta S. Melby RN, BSN, MSN as its new Executive Officer effective June 4, 2020.

Ms. Melby has 25 years of healthcare experience including 19 years as a registered nurse with 13 of those years being in a variety of nurse management and leadership roles. Most recently, Ms. Melby has served as the acting executive officer for BRN where she has had to navigate the board during the COVID-19 pandemic and think strategically and creatively and work well under pressure. During this time Ms. Melby has led BRN, finding alternative solutions within relevant statutes and regulations to help nursing students while maintaining the integrity of the nursing practice. She has showcased her relationship building skills by having to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to develop resources for students and the board.

Throughout her career, Ms. Melby has demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the nursing practice from all levels. From being a nurse, clinical instructor, director of nursing program, a nurse education specialist, sexual assault nurse examiner, nursing administration and practice manager, and a nurse education consultant she has enveloped a wide range of skills that will be valuable to BRN.

Ms. Melby has earned several professional degrees and certificates which include a Bachelor of Science in nursing, Master of Science in nursing, and is planning on resuming her pursuit of her terminal degree after taking some time off.

 

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An over-abundance of toilet paper. Stacks of water bottles in your garage. Canned goods piled high in your pantry. Have we become hoarders during the COVID-19 pandemic? Your own personal supply might tell you yes.

Amid the global health crisis, Americans have been panic-buying these items and many more:

  • Toilet paper
  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Flour and yeast
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Canned food
  • Pasta
  • Spray bottles
  • Diapers and formula

So why is it that you can find other items on the shelves with no problem but the shelves for the above items are empty? There is a part of the brain that is responsible for involuntary behaviors. It gives us an adrenaline rush when we fear danger.

“The fight, flight, or freeze mentality takes over, and rational thinking goes offline. Their brain may say, ‘do whatever it takes,” said Sacramento therapist Darlene Davis, MA, LMFT, LPCC. Davis said when people are fearful that their basic needs will not be met, they go into crisis mode and behave in ways they might not normally behave.

Despite authorities assuring the public that stockpiling is not necessary, fear can be contagious. When people start emptying shelves, others start to engage in the same behavior in fear they might run out of basic needs too. “Humans can become a part of the “mob mentality. The belief may be that everyone else is going to buy up all the toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc., ‘so I better get it first,” said Davis.

But toilet paper? It’s certainly not something you can eat or drink. While toilet paper manufacturers continue to work overtime, it’s much more noticeable when the big, bulky items disappear from the shelves adding to the fear contagion. “It’s based more on what our emotional brain is telling us,” said Davis. When shoppers see other shoppers desperately filling up their carts with TP, the natural reaction is to join the crowd. “This can make us feel part of something and not so isolated,” said Davis.

You could ask yourself the same question about flour and yeast. Why? This one has nothing to do with panic, but mind-soothing instead. People are just downright bored and are constantly looking at the internet flooded with baking ideas and ways to make your own bread. As a result, only flour dust—not flour packages—is left on the shelves. According to Davis, this human reaction can be a double-edged sword. “It can bring comfort to people as they find the time to bake. The downside is comfort food usually contributes to weight gain or empty calorie intake,” Davis said.

There’s also a difference between stockpiling and a hoarding disorder. Hoarding is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If items in a person’s house are getting in the way of normal daily function, it might be time to contact a therapist. “Therapists utilize cognitive therapy and other modalities to change people’s way of thinking and therefore improve functioning, increase supports, and build healthy relationships,” said Davis. “I think the majority of the stockpiling we are seeing does not meet the criteria of a hoarding disorder.”

If you wish to seek therapy from a mental health provider, find out more from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences at https://www.bbs.ca.gov/ or the California Board of Psychology at https://www.psychology.ca.gov/; to check a provider’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov/.

 

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As seemingly every aspect of life has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic, loved ones and friends of the deceased have had to cope with unprecedented new ways to mourn.

As little as three months ago, what would typically be a gathering of dozens to grieve the death of a family matriarch, for example, is now likely limited to a handful of immediate family members practicing social distancing in a funeral home or cemetery—if that. Many, if not most funeral homes have limited mourners to online viewings only with no gatherings allowed at all.

Funeral directors and clergy—complying with California and county COVID-19 restrictions for gatherings and social distancing—have reinvented the norms of farewells, embracing technology to provide grieving families with alternatives.

Mourners are now taking part virtually in visitations, funeral services, and burials with video and audio streaming as well as video chats. In many cases, memorial services in chapels and/or graveside services have been cancelled or are only allowing a small number of immediate family—with other family members standing by in cars waiting for their chance to pay respects in very small numbers.

“It’s a difficult time emotionally. And we’re trying to help these families as best we can navigate through unknown times,” Bob Achermann, director of the California Funeral Directors Association, told LAist.

Cultural rituals and traditions that may have included hours—or even days-long gatherings to honor the dead have been postponed or abandoned altogether in the wake of shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions. The pandemic has largely turned in-person consolation and hugs into online posts and faces on screens.

Funeral directors statewide who are licensed by the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau are prepared to assist grieving families any way they can in this difficult climate.

“The Cemetery and Funeral Bureau understands that the death of a loved one is one of the most traumatic experiences you will ever face, and making final arrangements while grieving can be emotionally difficult,” said Bureau Executive Officer Gina Sanchez. “The Bureau recommends planning ahead; compare prices and services and share your wishes with your loved ones to help them prepare a well-planned, affordable, and meaningful service. Visit our website for more information, www.cfb.ca.gov.”

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Spring Cleaning Is a Good Time to Prevent Potential Health Hazards

Article authored by Lana K. Wilson-Combs, Consumer Connection staff

After a cold, dreary, dark, and damp winter, most people are eager for the arrival of spring. Many insects are, too.

As the weather gets warmer, pests begin to come out of winter hiding and multiply. However, the last place you want to see ants, cockroaches, spiders, earwigs, bedbugs, termites, or other insects is in your home.

Now is a great time for homeowners, perhaps in the midst of spring cleaning, to add some simple, preventative pest-proofing measures to that “to-do” list. Or if the job seems too daunting, seek out licensed and skilled professionals in the pest control industry.

Pests carry a wide range of diseases, from Lyme disease to Zika. They can also carry bacteria that can contaminate food, equipment, and other stored products. Rodents can harbor and spread more than 200 human pathogens. Each year in the U.S., termites cause $5 billion in property damage (to homes and businesses). Mosquitos have become one of the deadliest pests worldwide as they cause roughly 1 million deaths per year.

Let’s face it: Insects are a part of nature, but those pesky pests don’t have to be part of your home and ruin your spring and summer fun—or health.

Here are some steps you can take to help ward off those creepy-crawlies:

  • Remove dead leaves, twigs, and debris that may have built up in your yard over the winter. These are perfect homes for bugs and insects!
  • Trim trees or bushes near your home; make sure to cut back any branches that touch your house, as they can serve as a walkway for bugs to enter.
  • Clean your gutters.
  • Fill in any cracks or gaps in windows, doorways, and the foundation (if it’s accessible).
  • Clean your kitchen thoroughly to remove any tempting food crumbs.
  • Clean out cluttered storage areas where pests can hide.
  • Repair any leaky pipes or fixtures; many bugs are looking for a water source.

Remember, it’s much easier to prevent a pest control problem than to stop one. However, if you discover your home has an infestation, call a licensed pest control professional.

To verify the status and license of a pest control business with the Structural Pest Control Board, log on to search.dca.ca.gov.

Like this article? Check out more consumer news in the latest issue of DCA’s Consumer Connection magazine!
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Take a look at this vital licensed profession

They’re a common sight: Hard-hatted, safety-vested people looking through scopes by the side of the road, at construction sites, or in the landscape. But who are they, what are they looking at, and what are they doing? Let’s “see” if we can find out more about surveyors, their profession’s long history, and today’s day-to-day duties and licensure.

AN ANCIENT CAREER

Throughout the ages, surveyors have shaped our world—literally—and they continue to do so today.

For instance, have you heard of Stonehenge? How about the Pyramids of Giza, or the Maya “megalopolis”? Surveying—the process of recording observations, making measurements, and marking the boundaries of tracts of lands—was there all those millennia ago to help make these wonders happen.

Surveying continued through the centuries, with Roman surveyors playing a major role in the empire’s expansion via structures, roads, and aqueducts—many of which still stand today—and Chinese surveyors planning the ultimate tract-boundary marker, the Great Wall of China.

The road to the Arc of Trajan, located in Algeria, was built by Roman surveyors at the end of the 2nd century!

In much more recent times in the United States, several presidents have been surveyors, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Even in California’s early history, the importance of surveying and shaping the young state was emphasized with the establishment of an elected “surveyor general” position: a constitutional office that continued for several decades before being absorbed into the California State Lands Commission.

And the Golden State has licensed and regulated surveyors since those same early days, with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (BPELSG) having been tasked with the profession’s oversight for nearly a century.

SHAPING OUR WORLD

While surveying technology has changed since Honest Abe’s day, many of today’s common surveyor duties would sound familiar to past professionals:

  • Measuring distances and angles between points on, above, and below the Earth’s surface.
  • Traveling to locations and using known reference points to determine the exact location of important features.
  • Researching land records, survey records, and land titles.
  • Looking for evidence of previous boundaries to determine where boundary lines are located.
  • Recording survey results and verifying data accuracy.
  • Preparing plots, maps, and reports.
  • Presenting findings to clients and government agencies.
  • Establishing official land and water boundaries for deeds, leases, and other legal documents and testifying in court regarding survey work.

However, “surveyor” now encompasses many cutting-edge specialties, including:

  • Boundary or land surveyors, who determine the legal property lines and help determine the exact locations of real estate and construction projects.Female surveyor uses scope at oil-drilling site
  • Engineering or construction surveyors, who determine the precise location of roads or buildings and proper depths for building foundations. They show changes to the property line and indicate potential restrictions on the property, such as what can be built on it and how large the structure can be. They also may survey the grade and topography of roads.
  • Geodetic surveyors, who use high-accuracy technology, including aerial and satellite observations, to measure large areas of the Earth’s surface.
  • Marine or hydrographic surveyors, who survey harbors, rivers, and other bodies of water to determine shorelines, the topography of the floor, water depth, and other features.

AN IN-DEMAND PROFESSION

According to BPELSG, there are four basic paths with specific requirements to become one of California’s more than 4,000 “Professional Land Surveyors,” namely:

  • A four-year college surveying degree, two years of qualifying land surveying experience, and passage of the required examinations.
  • Six years of qualifying land surveying experience and passage of the required examinations.
  • California civil engineering licensure with two years of qualifying land surveying experience and passage of the required examinations.
  • Out-of-state surveyor licensure with passage of California-required exams.

And as always, surveyors are in demand: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects steady growth for the profession.

For more information on California surveyors or other related professions, visit www.bpelsg.ca.gov; to check a surveyor’s license, visit search.dca.ca.gov.

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