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The San Joaquin Valley lacks doctors. For every 100,000 residents, the Valley has 39 primary care physicians—22 percent less than the state average of 64—and an even lower share of specialists. The supply is also short for health professionals who accept Medi-Cal and plans through the Affordable Care Act.Simultaneously, the Valley has an outsized need for doctors. Home to concentrated poverty and some of the most polluted air in the country, the Valley’s four million residents suffer from elevated rates of asthma and obesity compared to the rest of the state. Life expectancies for poor and affluent residents can vary by as much as 20 years.0000017c-41c3-d5e7-a57d-69ef67290000“Struggling For Care” is a collection of in-depth reports, testimonials and panel discussions examining what this shortage means to residents, what some health professionals are doing about it, and why the Valley has such a tough time holding on to doctors in the first place.This reporting was undertaken as part of a project with the USC Center for Health Journalism’s California Fellowship.

Valley Public Radio Reporter Wins Award From Health Journalism Association

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Valley Public Radio's Kerry Klein won first place honors from the AHCJ in the health policy reporting category for small media outlets.

The Association of Health Care Journalists has awarded Valley Public Radio's Kerry Klein first place honors in the group's annual awards competition for her reporting series Struggling For Care. The four-part radio project tells stories about the shortage of physicians in the San Joaquin Valley. The award comes in the category Health Policy Reporting (small outlets). Other 2018 award winners include The New York Times, The Washington Post and ProPublica. 

The judges wrote:

"Much has been published about the doctor shortage in rural areas, but “Struggling for Care,” a four-part series produced by Valley Public Radio, truly elevates our understanding of the problem. Focusing on California’s agricultural San Joaquin Valley, the series takes a deep dive into history, new data, and resident’s stories, delivering a provocative analysis of causes and potential solutions. The package, which includes online discussions and postings, is smart, fresh, and moving."

The project was produced as part of the California Health Journalism Fellowship with the USC Annenberg Center For Health Journalism. Last month, Klein was honored with another journalism award by the RTNA of Southern California for her reporting project with Ezra David Romero about contaminated drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley. 

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