KVIE Store  


Behind the Scenes


The Uninsured
Produced by Jennifer Fischer

On a daily basis, we see an average of about a 120 patients a day. And of that 120, about 30 to 40% are with out health insurance.

San Joaquin Valley Hospital is one of the few public hospitals in the Central Valley. Here, a heavy patient load is the norm. The emergency room is in a constant state of chaos. As a public institution, San Joaquin Valley hospital has an open door policy. Anyone in need of medical care receives it, regardless of their ability to pay. That can be costly if the patient doesn't have insurance.

The crisis of the uninsured has reached such a magnitude that it's going to start impacting the insured as well. According to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, nearly 6.8 million people in California are without healthcare insurance. In the Central Valley, that breaks down to about one in five residents. The rate of uninsured broken down by county is closely linked to the income levels and employment status.

Denny Martin of the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, says that the epicenter of the crisis is not in the Central Valley; it's in Los Angeles. But she estimates the Central Valley is only 6 to 12 months behind Los Angeles, and says skyrocketing healthcare costs, escalating insurance premiums, rising unemployment, and a bad economy are to blame for the growing number of uninsured.

One solution to the problem is community clinics. Through programs like Healthy Families, they provide free medical care for children. Peggy Frazer has been coming to Sacramento's Las Palmas clinic for the last 12 years. She says financially it's the only way she can manage her family's health situation. While it remains open now, healthcare workers say they're concerned about its future.

Resolving the issues surrounding healthcare for the uninsured may seem impossible, but healthcare professionals say it's not. But Californians need to insist that healthcare remains a front-and-center issue -- particularly during election years…


Steve Ebert
Director, San Joaquin General Hospital

Denny Martin
President/CEO, CAPH

Carmella Castellano
CEO, CA Primary Care Association


The complete text of New Valley Episode 107 -- The Heartbeat of Healthcare...


Presentation also made possible by a grant from
the Great Valley Center


New Valley Official Site