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Kern County

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Valley fever is a drain on taxpayers. An estimated 60 percent of valley fever-related hospitalizations - resulting in charges of close to $2 billion over 10 years in California alone - are covered by government programs.

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Valley Fever affects each of its victims differently. Here, three patients share how the disease has deeply affected their lives and their families.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Kern's physicians come from many far-flung corners of the globe. Dr. Carlo Amazona originally from the Philippines shares how his experience growing up with no doctor made him becoming one.

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Dr. Elyzabat Tadros shares her journey to become a doctor from her native Sudan to her current home in Bakersfield.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Kern's physicians come from many far-flung corners of the globe. This piece takes a look at several compelling personal journeys.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Concerns about the quality of Caribbean-educated students aren't completely unsubstantiated. A 2010 study published in Health Affairs examined mortality rates of nearly 250,000 hospitalizations. The patients of foreign-born international medical graduates had the lowest patient death rates while U.S. citizens who study abroad had the highest rates -- a difference authors called "striking."

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The Bakersfield Californian recently took on one of the most ambitious health care quality projects I have seen attempted by an outlet outside of the really big markets. One reporter, Kellie Schmitt, wanted to answer two questions: whether most of the doctors in Kern County were from another country and whether that mattered.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

More than 5,000 doctors from sub-Saharan Africa practice in the United States. That migration has had "a significant negative" effect on the ratios of doctors to population in Africa.

Picture of Farida Jhabvala

Kern County, with similar geography and population to Fresno, decided to enter the new health insurance program called Bridge to Reform. On the way, Kern has stumbled upon many challenges, but for some patients, the program has changed their lives.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

It's no surprise that the Central Valley is a medically underserved community, where recruiting doctors is a tough task. Many of the doctors working here have attended medical school overseas. In fact, if you crunch the numbers, Kern County comes in fourth among California's 58 counties for having the most foreign-trained doctors.

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Got a great idea for a reporting project on the health of underserved communities in California or on the performance of the state's health and social safety nets?  We're offering reporting grants of $2,000 to $10,000, plus six months of mentoring, to up to eight individual journalists, newsrooms or cross-newsroom collaboratives.  Deadline to apply:  September 20.

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