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Tulare County

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EPA's Jared Blumenfeld brings a little hope and money to San Joaquin Valley.

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Recent studies have found statistical links between pesticide use and an outbreak of Parkinson's disease in California farm towns. Researchers even know which chemicals are the likely culprits. What's the government doing about it? Not much.

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To encourage more doctors to work in underserved areas, state Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, proposed a bill for the Steven M. Thompson Medical School Scholarship Program to help students pay for medical school. The bill, Assembly Bill 589, has a condition: The students contractually commit to work their first three years after residency in an underserved area.

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My two articles (I was originally writing three, but ended up with two lengthy articles) for the Fellowship were definitely acquired through an illuminating process.

Over and over I encountered heads of medical institutions in the area who gave me their polished spin on why there weren't enough physicians in the area and why our huge Medi-Cal population wasn't being served. The two are intertwined as not having enough doctors/resources for the privately insured means that the physicians who DO live here will flock to the patients who pay. Which are not Medi-Cal patients.

Picture of Hillary Meeks

Tulare County, a poor, semi-rural county in California's Central Valley, has a one-third of its population on Medi-Cal — California's version of Medicaid. This is more than any other county in the state, yet the resources to care for the Medi-Cal population are few.

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A look into why Tulare County, a poor, semi-rural county in California's Central Valley, has a severe lack of physicians.

Picture of Hillary Meeks

When my 2-year-old son has to see a doctor for his eyes or ears, I plan to take at least a half a day off work, if not a full day. Between the hours-long wait in the overcrowded specialists’ offices and the time it takes to travel to another county, our time is eaten away because these doctors are so few and far between in the San Joaquin Valley. That’s the mantra of Tulare County and health care. There aren’t enough doctors to go around, specialist or otherwise.

Picture of Rebecca Plevin

For the June 2 edition of Vida en el Valle, I wrote a story about the García family of Pixley. (The story was produced with the support of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.)

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