Nurse: More middle-class patients accessing system

Older patients often assume Planned Parenthood is all about condoms and birth control pills, and feel embarrassed to be seen there, she said.

But, as the economy continues to stagnate, and so many have lost jobs and insurance, they’re beginning to get past that stigma. The total number of visits to the clinic has increased from less than 12,000 in 2006 to almost 18,000 last year.

DeLaurier-O’Neil, 58, has worked in nursing on and off since 1975. Last year, she came to Planned Parenthood out of retirement because she, herself, needed health insurance.

The recent shift in need has been noticeable, she said. She’s long seen poor people and low-income workers struggle to access health care. But now the center staff is seeing professional women, bank tellers and teachers who’ve lost jobs or had their hours cut, or who are trying to cut corners after their husbands become unemployed.

One of DeLaurier-O’Neil’s colleagues, a nurse who used to work in private practice, said she’s seen about 20 of her former private practice patients coming into the clinic in the past 18 months.

A recent survey conducted by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte — which serves 42 counties across Central California and Northern Nevada — shows that more than 45 percent of patients had lost jobs or hours in the past year, and almost 53 percent had avoided seeing a doctor in the past year due to cost.

The Modesto center’s staff can provide limited types of care, but for many health conditions they must do their best to find other resources for their patients, calling upon doctor friends or other safety net providers for help.

Sometimes, the best thing DeLaurier-O’Neil can do is let patients tell her their stories.

“Sometimes just somebody listening to you is all you need to get through the day,” she said.

More Stories from This Project

Chat Transcript: Doctor, reporter answer health care questions

Following the publication of "Don't Get Sick: Crisis in Coverage," Dr. Eric Ramos, chief medical officer of Doctors Medical Center, and Modesto Bee health reporter Ken Carlson, answered questions from readers concerning health coverage in Stanislaus...

Graphic: A look at indigent care

Click here to download the graphic showing the surge in indigent patients in Stanislaus County.

Graphic: Services on decline; health insurer breakdown

Click here to download the graphic on services on the decline in Stanislaus County.
  • 1 of 7

Videos from This Project

  • 1 of 2

Audio from This Project

Photos from This Project

Day 3 in print

A look at indigent care

  • 1 of 2


Other Articles

Stress case: What’s behind the increased demand for mental health counseling from SoCal college students?

On February 7, author Claudia Boyd-Barrett appeared on Southern California Public Radio's Air Talk with Larry Mantle to discuss her project about...

At some schools, mental health battle includes the Bible

This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register. All kinds of colleges are dealing with unprecedented student demand for mental health...

California colleges, like USC, are in the midst of a mental health care crisis. Can help come fast enough?

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News. “Are you actually going to kill yourself?” Sociology Professor...
  • 1 of 254

Other Audio

© 2019 Center for Health Reporting