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Tulare County

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In Tulare County, RV-like mobile units are trying to fill the need among Hispanic farm laborers for mental health care. But so far, the need far outstrips the supply of care.
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Some kids born into the gangster lifestyle live to survive. If they want a different future, they will struggle to break free. One charter school aims to rehabilitate such students. This story is part of the Class Dismissed documentary from Capital Public Radio.

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When I left for a week of reporting in rural California in late February, I didn't know I would come back with two stories about the devastating health consequences of isolation.

I'm not just talking about the geographic isolation one finds in a remote area. From the hilly evergreen landscape of eastern Shasta County, to the agricultural flatlands of Tulare County in the South Central Valley, I witnessed how isolation can leave people in the dark about keeping healthy, lead to emotional despair, and pose real barriers to quality of life.

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Although California is the world’s 9th largest economy and a hub of tech innovation, some of the state’s residents live in communities that lack basic services ­like clean water and functioning sewage systems.

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Nearly every day, Arleen Hernandez battles an aging septic tank that backs up into her toilet and shower. Upon moving to Parklawn in 1986, she didn’t realize her new neighborhood lacks basic public services.

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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.

Picture of Hillary Meeks

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.

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