Don't get sick
Crisis in coverage

About this project

Doctors in Stanislaus County say mounting numbers of out-of-work professionals and laid-off blue collar workers have joined the chronically poor and undocumented in clinic waiting rooms throughout the region, threatening to overwhelm its fragile safety net. The deep recession has pushed the ranks of Central Valley uninsured to unprecedented levels, while a dire state budget deficit has forced lawmakers to cut key health care programs for the state’s poorest residents. These two trends reveal a troubling new reality: Across class lines, people are struggling to access care -- or simply are going without.


Bullet Points: Government health cuts in Stanislaus County

Here’s a look at some government health cuts in Stanislaus County, and at prospective cuts in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2011-12 state budget:

Doctor: Looking for nontraditional ways to treat uninsured

A 30-year career in health care has given Dr. Eric Ramos of Modesto special insights into patient care.

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.

Health services director: Patients' stress is visible

Dr. Del Morris can see the stress on the faces of the newer patients at the Stanislaus County health clinics.

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-...

Healthy Outlook? Doctors, officials seek new solutions

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

Hughson woman feels effects of health-care cuts to indigent

Stanislaus County’s indigent adult health program has been a safety net for some of the county’s poorest residents, as well as people whose jobs and health insurance have disappeared during the recession.

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.

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.

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?

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.

PDF: Day 1 in print

Click here to download the Day 1 package as it appeared in The Modesto Bee. February 20, 2011.

Senior: A Stanislaus County program that works for her pulled away

During the state budget crisis in 2009, one stroke of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pen eliminated funding for an obscure program that helped seniors and disabled adults live independently in Stanislaus County.

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.

Unemployed and Uninsured: Learning which illness to fight

When she awakes in a bunk bed every morning, in a room with a Justin Bieber poster and other girly decorations, Juli Leavitt is reminded how her life has changed since the economic downturn.

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.

PDF: Day 2 in print

Click here to download the Day 2 package as it appeared in 

PDF: Day 3 in print

Click here to download the Day 3 package as it appeared in 

PDF: Indigent Health Services Information

Click here to download a PDF on 

PDF: Where To Get Help

Click here to download the full PDF of Where to Get Help.

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...


Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley is a photographer, radio producer and print reporter specializing in topics related to mental illness, reproductive health care and health disparities. She is also a childbirth photographer.

This year, she is working on a series about how low-income parents access care for perinatal mental illnesses. The project is funded by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

Whaley was a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

Her work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) STEM story project. She has contributed radio, video, photography and written stories to KQED Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times and other media outlets. For six years, I worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist, based in Los Angeles. She is a past president of the national organization Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and spent her early 20s leading canoe expeditions for young women, including a solo-led 45-trip in the Canadian Arctic. 

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