KQED’s California Report Looks At Rural Health Care – July 20, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scott Shafer retraces his route at journey’s end. KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

SR 299 – You might not recognize Scott Shafer, but fans of his California Report radio show and podcast well know his voice. Shafer visited Arcata recently as he wound up a road trip for the “Health Dialogues” series he hosts.

Having covered  hot-button issues  like same-sex marriage and veterans’ health care, Shafer and his colleague, Sarah Varney, recently took on a difficult-to-cover issue with little mindshare in the halls of mainstream media – rural health care.

It’s not easy to report on, because it’s literally “out there” – here, in other words, and way off in the remote nook-and-cranny communities behind the Redwood Curtain and up in the mountains. “We wanted to hear those voices of upper rural California,” Shafer said, enjoying a coffee at Café Brio.

So that’s where he and Varney went.  The two traveled the rural route, spent time with people along the way and will collate their findings in a series of reports titled “Rural Health in Northern California.”

Stops included visits with a home health nurse in Weaverville, a family health center in Willow Creek, a food bank and the local Mobile Medical Office.

“You get a sense of the vulnerability of people in those places,” Shafer said. You have folks living in places they want to be, but doctors don’t.”

The sometimes lonely professionalism and community service ethic of those who work in isolated, under-resourced outposts impressed Shafer. “They have a formal and informal network of relationships,” he said, noting the web of care providers operating in rural and mobile clinics, helicopter ambulances, telemedicine sites and elsewhere.

“The people delivering these services are just incredibly dedicated,” he said. “You take a vow of poverty and sacrifice.”

KQED’s The California Report airs locally (and streams) on KHSU mornings at 6:50 a.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m., and is available as a podcast on iTunes.

KHSU will air the Health Dialogues rural health report Wednesday, July 21 at 6 p.m.

It will also be aired Thursday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. on KQED, and rebroadcasts Saturday, Aug. 24 at 2 p.m.. The audio will be available for download and streaming online on Friday morning at HealthDialogues.org

Note: This story contains corrections to the print version.

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