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Report highlights local healthcare issues

Along with funding programs to help students access mental health services, patients afford their prescription medications and senior citizens receive free meals and check-ins during the pandemic, to name just a few, Legacy Health Endowment has also been dedicated to educating the public on a variety of health-related issues.

Recently, Legacy Health put together an Essential Healthcare Datapoints report to help people understand the numbers behind the healthcare topics and issues that most affect the Central Valley and its rural communities.

“My goal is that this resource will help you better understand the challenges and needs of underserved communities in rural California and the opportunities to create viable and sustainable solutions,” wrote Legacy Health Endowment CEO Jeffrey Lewis in the report.

The report covers everything from children’s health to chronic disease and mental health. When asked, Lewis said the top three issues that affect Turlock and its surrounding communities are diabetes, mental health and access to affordable medications.

“Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation's $3.8 trillion in annual health care costs. Unfortunately, these same issues have and continue to impact Turlock and the Central Valley,” said Lewis.

To help those with diabetes, Legacy Health funded a registered dietician at Castle Family Health Center to assist people with understanding how to change their eating habits.

Two Legacy Health programs play a dual role of helping those with diabetes be able to afford their medications, while also being a service to all those who need help paying for their prescriptions.

Legacy Health created a charitable pharmacy in Livingston where anyone without health insurance and in a low-income household can obtain needed medications. For people with commercial insurance through their employer who need help paying for diabetic, or other medications, the Rx Relief program is available through Dec. 31, 2021.

Mental health is a national crisis and also right here in Turlock.

Some critical data points on mental health that Lewis referenced include:

· Only 5% of children with Medi-Cal receive the behavioral health services they need.

· Only 35% of youth in California who report needing mental health support receive it.

· There has been a 104% increase in inpatient visits for suicide, suicide ideation, and self-injury for ages 1-17; and

· There has been a 50% increase in mental health hospital days for children.

· Since 1995, California has lost nearly 30 percent of its acute care psychiatric hospital beds – where are people supposed to go when fewer and fewer facilities are there?

Legacy Health created the First Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center to bring mental health services to Turlock. The endowment also collaborated with Hazel Health, leading telehealth and tele-behavioral health provider, to bring these services to public school students. This program is being piloted in the Denair and Hughson Unified School Districts.

“The obstacles are significant, but we can overcome the challenges,” said Lewis.

To read the report in its entirety, visit: