Jocelyn Wiener

Center for Health Reporting

Jocelyn Wiener is an Oakland-based writer for the Center for Health Reporting.

Daily Bread

In rural north state, more seniors depend on government for daily meals

According to a recent study, over half the single seniors in Plumas County and neighboring Nevada and Sierra counties do not have the income to sustain a “minimally decent standard of living.”
Youth in Trouble

California launches audit of mental health services in schools

This article originally appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

Access nightmare

Finding specialists tough for rural patients under managed care

Diane Kantoff’s job is to find specialists who will treat patients of the Plumas District Hospital Clinic in this quaint little town in the woods 80 miles northwest of Reno.
Youth in Trouble

Families of mentally ill children struggle for access to residential treatment

The first time Emily tried to kill herself, at age 15, she swallowed the entire contents of a bottle of Prozac, along with some Sudafed and Claritin she found in the medicine cabinet.
Youth in Trouble

Hospitalizations way up for California’s youngest residents

In recent years, Dr. Jason Bynum has seen the churn: teens in crisis cycling through his south Sacramento psychiatric hospital, admitted, released, and just a few months down the road, back with another breakdown.
Uninsured Hopes

High stakes for uninsured in Tulare County

Tulare -- This poor, rural county in the southern Central Valley made its name in agriculture by producing more milk than any other county in the nation. But for the men and women laboring in the dairies, fields and packing plants here, Tulare County also owns a less auspicious distinction: It is home to the highest percentage of adults in California without health insurance.
Back Story

High rate of controversial back procedures raises concern

Modesto residents seeking pain relief from fractured vertebrae underwent two controversial back procedures at double the statewide rate between 2005 and 2010, according to an analysis of state hospital data released earlier this week.
Back Story

Controversy rages over effectiveness of back procedures

Should doctors be injecting acrylic cement to fix broken vertebrae? It depends on whom you ask.
Back Story

Watsonville residents top state for back treatment rate

Between 2005 and 2010, the city of Watsonville had the highest rate of vertebroplasties and kyphoplasties, similar procedures to relieve back pain from fractured vertebrae, of any community in the state.
Back Story

Back procedure rates show huge variance in state

Graphic showing the percentage (for select cities) of the California average for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures.
Cavity Kids Revisited

Sacramento, Los Angeles dental plans show improvement

Dental managed care plans that came under fire last year for failing to treat large numbers of poor children in Sacramento and Los Angeles counties have made significant strides toward getting those children into dentists’ chairs, according to a report submitted to the state Legislature last week by the Department of Health Care Services.
Mental Breakdown

Mentally ill languish in jails due to cuts, lack of beds

The latest chapter of Kim Green’s recurring nightmare began last fall. In October, her 24-year-old daughter - who suffers from severe bipolar disorder and a mood disorder related to schizophrenia – was booked into the county jail after being arrested on a probation violation. In December a judge declared the young woman incompetent to face charges and ordered her to Napa State Hospital to get well.
Joyce Plis
Mental Breakdown

Help eludes father until son ends up behind bars

Joyce Plis, executive director of the Stanislaus County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, attends as many court hearings as she can, advocating on behalf of mentally ill individuals, helping family members navigate the legal system and talking with judges and attorneys on both sides about the individual defendants’ illnesses.
Mental Breakdown

Mental health care breaking down in Stanislaus

They appear here after every other door has been shut on them. Some are haunted by multiple voices or schizophrenia, others paralyzed by anxiety and depression. Inside this simply furnished room at the Stanislaus chapter office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, sick people with nowhere else to turn, and their worried family members, struggle to help one another navigate a shrinking mental health safety net.
Cheri Flores brushes son Julian's aching teeth in early December. The boy developed decay as a toddler from falling asleep while drinking a bottle. She says he wasn't seen at 1 1/2 on his first dental visit or at two subsequent appointments. (Lezlie Sterl
Cavity Kids

'Model' dental program proves painful for kids

Almost two decades ago, the state made Sacramento County the testing ground for a new model of delivering dental care to poor children. Officials envisioned a managed care system that would control costs and improve children's ability to see a dentist.
Cavity Kids

Steinberg seeks state review of Sacramento Co. dental program

Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg is calling for a state review of a Sacramento County pilot program that provides state-funded dental coverage for low-income children.
Cavity Kids

California state Senate president demands investigation into Sacramento child dental providers

State Senate President pro tempore Darrell Steinberg is calling on the state Department of Health Care Services to investigate allegations into “lax accountability and inadequate patient access” for poor Sacramento children with Medi-C

Home alone

A place where elderly find comfort, community

One month from now, thousands of poor elderly and disabled Californians will likely lose access to the day centers where they receive meals, therapy and medical care, as well as companionship and a sense of community.

Vaccination refusers

As vaccinations decline, threat of outbreaks grows

And the number is growing, much to the alarm of pediatricians and state health officials. Over the past decade, "personal belief exemptions" have tripled. Signed by parents, PBEs allow children to enter school missing some or all vaccines. Statewide, more than two percent of kindergarteners have such exemptions.
Vaccination refusers

Mother torn amid conflicting advice on vaccinations

Savitri Jones has always tried to live a natural lifestyle. After the arrival of her four-and-a-half-year-old twins, Lucia and Kai, that seemed even more important. Kai has Down syndrome, and a relatively fragile immune system. All the vaccines her pediatricians were peddling made her nervous. What was in them? How could she know that they don’t cause autism?
Vaccination refusers

Doctor agonizes over parents' stubornness on vaccinations

It may be decades later, but Dr. Elizabeth Baskerville still cries when she remembers the little girl. Four years old. Dead of meningitis. The day she read the news in the paper, the child’s name had sounded familiar. Baskerville went to her office to see if there was a file. Sure enough, she had written in her notes that she had seen the girl as a one-year-old. At that appointment, the child’s mother had decided to wait on vaccination. She said she’d think about it. She hadn’t come back.
Legislators move to delay whooping cough vaccine

Legislators move to delay whooping cough vaccine

Responding to panicked school districts that insist they will be unable to meet the looming whooping cough immunization deadline, state legislators are attempting to forge a last-minute change this week that will grant districts 30 extra days after classes begin to verify vaccinations of all seventh- through 12th-grade students.
Don't get sick

Modestan loses smile when Medi-Cal drops optional benefits

John Stygar doesn’t smile anymore.

With only four teeth remaining in his mouth, he’s too embarrassed.

Don't get sick

TwentySomethings: In a state of insurance 'limbo'

During the school year, Nikki Boudreau has access to health care through California State University, Stanislaus, where she’s a senior. But come summertime, and during school breaks, she is uninsured.

Don't get sick

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.

Don't get sick

Modesto JC Student: Waiting out an illness

A few months ago, Josue Jimenez had a fever and a bad stomach ache. On the first and second day, he wasn’t too worried. By the third day, he started getting nervous. Why wasn’t he better yet?

Don't get sick

Healthy Outlook? Doctors, officials seek new solutions

The national health care crisis has hit hard in Stanislaus County.

Don't get sick

Healthy Change: 'Benefactor' approach in Modesto provides for uninsured

There are two entrances to St. Luke's Family Practice. The first door to this unique nonprofit Catholic doctors' office — housed at the back of a Modesto shopping center — is for well-to-do patients who pay an annual premium to access boutique-style medicine.
Don't get sick

Don't Get Sick: The crisis in Stanislaus County

A health care crisis is sweeping the Central Valley, devastating middle-class and poor families and threatening to overwhelm the region’s fragile safety net.

Don't get sick

Middle-class conundrum: Too wealthy for aid, too poor to afford

For a long time, Laura and David Hinton were living their version of the American dream.


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