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Sonoma County

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Sonoma County is famous as a foodie capital and for its beautiful stretches of open space and parks. But it's also home to some stark health disparities, with rates of obesity and diabetes in towns such as Roseland much higher than elsewhere. Telling that story was the challenge before me.

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Pastoral scenery, views of the sea obscure the poverty and related ills that proliferate in Mendocino County California. A program under the Affordable Care Act is trying to ease these inequities by giving millions of dollars annually to distressed communities nationwide.

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Almost 50 years ago, a notorious church bombing in Birmingham, Ala. killed two of Fania Davis's closest friends—and launched Davis, then a teenager, into a lifetime of social justice work. Today, the well-known Oakland resident directs Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), an innovative organization that aims to turn teenagers accused of crimes or troublemaking into responsible citizens.

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Nursing homes in California have reaped $880 million in new funding from a 2004 state law designed to help them hire more caregivers and boost wages. But many homes did just the opposite.

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Against the backdrop of today's televised health care summit in Washington, D.C., a Los Angeles gathering is discussing health in their communities from a decidedly different angle.

"When people think of health, they frequently think of medicine," said Michelle Levander, director of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, which convened the event. "But we encourage you think of health  from a different standpoint, from the perspective of broader community well being."

Picture of Shuka Kalantari

As Congress considers a major overhaul of the U.S. health care system, Health Dialogues examines how the new state budget will affect health care closer to home. Will kids in low income families be able to get basic services? What about drug treatment programs mandated by Proposition 36? And how may where you live affect the care you'll get?

Healthy Families Long-Term Stability in Question: Find out what it's like to be a 15 year-old girl without health insurance, as Health Dialogues hears from one of nearly 80,000 children on the Healthy Families waiting list backlog.

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Here's a quick roundup of recent articles localizing the potential impact of federal health reform and California's health budget cuts (see Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's additional $656 million in line-item vetoes here and the full California budget document here).

Picture of William Heisel

Every doctor is entitled to a bad day, even a bad week.

Dr. Lawrence James Williamson (California License No. 73495), a family doctor in Windsor, Calif., has been having a very bad year.

In May 2008, Williamson was told he was not entitled to what he apparently thought was a free brunch at a Las Vegas hotel. He did something many denied a free meal have considered doing. He threw a fit, according to the Medical Board of California.

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Molin Malicay is executive director of the Sonoma County Indian Health Project in Santa Rosa, Calif. Mr. Malicay works directly with project advisors, administrators and staff to ensure quality health care for the American Indian community. Mr. Malicay works closely with the following tribes: Dry Creek Rancheria, Cloverdale, Manchester/Point Arena, Lytton and Stewart's Point. He has worked in the areas of management, planning, training, evaluation and computer application in health and tribal administration. He also is a trained meeting facilitator.

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Bruce Alfano is CEO of the Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation (RCHDC), which develops housing projects involving low-income families and low income elderly. It has expanded into operating a self-help housing program serving Lake, Mendocino, and Humboldt Counties. He was formerly executive director of West County Community Services, an organization offering counseling, youth employment services, a senior center, Sonoma works, adult employment services, a food bank and housing assistance to residents of Guerneville in Sonoma County.

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