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Sick of the sickness: Time to be proactive

Sick of the sickness: Time to be proactive

Picture of Joe Goldeen

The people of Stockton and surrounding San Joaquin County, Calif., almost 700,000 strong, continue to experience among the worst health outcomes by any measure both statewide and nationally. I've chronicled this situation for the past eight years. At times I've been able to include proposals for change that some very dedicated community professionals have put forward. But little has changed. If anything, the county finds itself in more serious decline than ever before. Its public health institutions are constantly losing ground, and private providers are struggling to adapt to a changing payer mix, not the least of which is declining government reimbursements

San Joaquin is certainly not unique in this situation. While it has some very qualified, dedicated health-care professionals addressing its problems, the resources here are clearly not enough. Why does that continue to be the case? Who is doing things right? What are the resources this county needs, and how can they be made available here - in the forgotten San Joaquin Valley?

For my California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, I intend to spend my time researching and conducting interviews that will discover and determine what resources are needed in San Joaquin County to improve health outcomes. I will specifically look at two epidemics - obesity and diabetes. I hope to present my stories in a constructive way with the goal of bringing some measurable improvements to the health of our ailing community.

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Joe, congrats on the fellowship and I look forward very much to learning more about your work. I've had the opportunity to do some reporting on heart disease and I know that the rates in your part of the state are sky-high. Glad that you'll be digging into this important issue though like you I wonder what's possible in an era of declining budgets. 

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