"It specifically has impacted my health," said Shelton, 29. "I've tried to get in for physicals because I have asthma."
Shelton said she's had to resort to emergency room visits when her son needed asthma medication, because he couldn't wait two weeks for a clinic appointment.
"It might not be life or death, but he needed asthma medication as soon as possible," Shelton said.
According to a recently released health assessment, 43.8 percent of
"It's so hard to get into a doctor's office. It's almost like you don't know if you're having an emergency or not," Shelton said. "You really don't have a choice in this area."
The assessment indicates several barriers to care such as long wait times for appointments or lack of physicians that can discourage individuals from seeking preventive care.
Lack of preventive care, such as routine check-ups, adds to the high amount of chronic illnesses plaguing the county, according to the report, and results in residents being diagnosed with illnesses when they're in later stages.
County's high reliance on
When half of the population is on
"We sort of have a double whammy," Grassi said. "Large low-income populations makes it tough for providers. There are more opportunities in other cities."
Shelton, currently a
"It hasn't been great," she said.
When insured by
Shelton said she has been trying to find a pediatrician to see her 7-year-old son, but it's difficult to find a pediatrician who accepts
"It seems like since
"It's hard for
Another factor Grassi pointed out was
"When you have a medical school, you have a better chance of folks training and staying," Grassi said. "That's why UC Merced's medical school is so important to us. It will keep providers."
"One thing we cannot change here is the locations," Villarama said. "There is more demand now than we can actually accommodate."
Villarama said since the mandated law to electronically enter medical records was implemented two years ago, there is less time to be spent with patients because learning the systems and requirements takes up more of the practitioner's time.
"It takes time away from direct interaction with patients," Villarama said. "It becomes frustrating."
The extra time spent filing records electronically means providers can see only half the patients they'd see otherwise, Villarama said. Although the new system is more beneficial when it comes to the quality of patient care, Villarama said it is more time-consuming.
Everyone at Golden Valley wants to serve their patients, Villarama said, but there are only a certain number of patients that can be seen daily. Villarama said they don't want to overwork providers, and it can be difficult to find a balance, especially when the demand for care is so prominent.
"We really just need to bring more providers in and make
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