Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Further declines in rural health care access in northern California

A front-page story in yesterday's Sacramento Bee told of the closure of several rural health clinics in northern California. Here's an excerpt:

DOYLE – Just before the turnoff into this tiny community, near the shuttered Burger Barn, a sign announcing Doyle's existence also hints at its fade toward oblivion. Underneath the name of the local clinic, Doyle Family Practice, someone has added the words: "Temporarily closed."

Last summer, state budget cuts forced the Doyle clinic – along with five other rural health or dental clinics in far Northern California – to close. Since then, the isolated stretch of highway connecting this high desert community in Lassen County to Susanville, 42 miles northwest, and Reno, 46 miles southeast, has become a major obstacle for people in need of health care.

Many of Doyle's residents are elderly or poor, often unable to find a ride to either city and too broke to afford gas to drive themselves.

Doyle is not even a Census Designated Place. Another town featured in the story, Westwood,California, has a population of 1,998. Both communities are in Lassen County, population 33,828.

Another story also published yesterday appeared under the headline, "A few rural clinics are resolved to stay open." It features the Anderson Valley Health Clinic in Mendocino County.

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