doctor shortage

Fresno State / Fresno State Official Facebook

 

As coronavirus cases are surging, so are reports of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. But even as mental health professionals are needed more than ever, those who graduated from one Fresno State nursing program are being told to return to school.

 

California Governor Facebook page

Earlier this month, the state of California announced it’ll forgive student loans for hundreds of medical providers. The move should benefit underserved patients in the San Joaquin Valley.

Michael Galvez is a pediatric hand surgeon and plastic surgeon at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. Between a bachelor’s degree, medical school, residency and two specialized fellowships, he says he spent 18 years studying after graduating high school. “I actually tell families that I meet here that I went to thirtieth grade,” he jokes.

fresnostate.edu website

Fresno State announced Wednesday that its Master of Science in Nursing has lost its accreditation, a first for the degree program since it was established in 1968. It’s also the university’s first program to ever lose its accreditation, and it follows less than a year after the nursing school learned that one of its certificate programs had never been accredited in the first place.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

About five years ago, Jesus Gomez spent a month in the hospital. As he pulls out his phone to show me photos, he stops and smiles. “They’ll scare you,” he jokes.

Gomez scrolls through pictures of his head and torso covered in red splotches and thick brown scabs. “If they hadn’t treated me, I would’ve died,” he says in Spanish. “I would’ve been dead five years.”

His symptoms began small in 2013. “It started with an itch, and when I would scratch, it would break the skin and it would start to peel,” he says. Then came blisters.

Stars Behavioral Health Group

Mental health care is a constant need here in the San Joaquin Valley, especially for those who can’t afford to go elsewhere—and for those whose symptoms are tough enough to require some treatment but not hospitalization.

Last week, Fresno County opened a new crisis residential facility to house those who fall in that in-between space. In this interview, we speak about the new facility with Dawan Utecht, director of the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

We’re at the start of another school year. And that means more than just a focus on basic academic skills. In Fresno County there’s a new push to address mental health and wellbeing. It’s part of a five year, $111 million dollar campaign that’s called “All 4 Youth” that’s bringing together the county’s office of education and the behavioral health department.

UCSF Fresno

For years, local medical and political leaders have been calling for a medical school in the San Joaquin Valley. Now the long-running UCSF Fresno graduate medical education program is getting a boost towards that goal. The university has announced that it is upgrading the Fresno program’s status to that of an official branch campus of UCSF. As Dean Michael Peterson told Valley Public Radio, the move is an evolution of the San Joaquin Valley PRIME medical education program, which had been run by UCSF, UC Davis and UC Merced.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A year ago, two universities were vying to open the first medical school in the San Joaquin Valley. On Wednesday, one took a big step forward—while the other fizzled. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley’s newest university is expanding: On Wednesday, groundbreaking ceremony for a new campus of California Health Sciences University.

The 90-acre plot of land between Highway 168, Temperance and Alluvial Avenues in Clovis is part of the university’s plan to operate a family of schools of medicine and health. The School of Pharmacy’s inaugural class will graduate later this month.

Kern Medical / Kern County

The San Joaquin Valley will soon have fewer training opportunities for doctors; one of Kern Medical’s residency programs is losing its accreditation.

Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd says he doesn’t yet know why the hospital’s residency program in surgery will need to shut down.

"We’re very disappointed by this," Judd says. "Of course once we receive the findings we will do what is necessary to rectify those findings and reopen the program."

UCSF Fresno

UCSF Fresno has received a state grant to expand its training programs for medical residents and fellows. The university will receive $2.15 million over three years from the Office of Statewide Health and Planning thanks to the Song-Brown Program—a state law that provides grants in order to increase training for primary care providers throughout California. The funds will be used to support UCSF Fresno’s programs in Family and Community Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A study published last week by UC San Francisco argues the San Joaquin Valley has some of the lowest ratios of behavioral health providers like psychiatrists and licensed clinical social workers in the state. The study also predicts that if nothing changes, California is on its way to a statewide behavioral health worker shortage.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Earlier this summer, a contract between CalViva health and Kaiser Permanente left 9,000 Medi-Cal patients in the San Joaquin Valley to find all new doctors. We were curious how that transition happened, so we set out to find out how significant this change was in the healthcare world and how doctors and patients experienced it.

As part of our series Struggling For Care, we invited listeners to call in with their experiences trying to find doctors in the San Joaquin Valley. Some audio clips below are directly taken (with permission) from voicemails left on our tip line, others from more in-depth conversations. All highlight the frustration, helplessness and occasionally high stakes of a region with too few medical providers.

Saint Agnes Medical Center

Amidst a shortage of physicians in the San Joaquin Valley, local opportunities for graduate medical training are expanding.

For the first time in its 88-year history, Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno is becoming a teaching hospital with the launch of an internal medicine residency program in July 2018. It will accept 16 residents the first year and grow to 40 after three years.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

As the San Joaquin Valley struggles with a shortage of primary care physicians, one group in particular is stepping in to fill in the gaps: doctors born or trained in foreign countries. And while the planned repeal of the DACA program is President Trump’s most recent immigration policy change, he’s hinted at others that could influence the flow of foreign physicians into the Valley. This installment of our series Struggling For Care explores the valley’s complicated relationship with international doctors.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

When we consider medical providers, what comes to mind may be doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. But what about pharmacists? A new law has allowed them to greatly expand their role to become providers—which could be good news for patients struggling to access doctors. But one major obstacle still stands in the way of pharmacists taking on patients. This latest installment of our series Struggling For Care begins with the story of a community pharmacist in Kern County looking toward the future.

UCSF

As we reported earlier this summer, the Fresno area could soon be home to two medical schools. While that may seem like a great opportunity for creating home-grown doctors, research suggests local residencies and fellowships could be more important for keeping doctors here. But the Valley lags behind the state in those training opportunities, too.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

For much of 2017, healthcare has dominated the headlines. But while access to insurance coverage remains a national debate, here in the San Joaquin Valley, getting to see a doctor isn’t always easy, even for people who have coverage. It’s not a new problem, and it’s not unique to the valley, but this area is especially hard hit by a lack of physicians.

ZDoggMD

At the intersection of popular culture and health care innovation is a man the internet knows as ZDoggMD. Thanks to his forward thinking ideas about what he calls Health 3.0, he’s been featured in The Atlantic, Forbes,

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