ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE
Why is this important?
Highly technical, highly skilled health care is not valuable to a community unless it is available to the people who need it. The presence and availability of hospitals and practitioners in a community are critical components of health care access.
What is the measure?
The number of practicing physicians and allied health professionals per capita are used as the measure of access to health care.
How are we doing?
In Tuolumne County, we have two hospitals centrally located in Sonora. Sonora Regional Medical Center maintains 84 acute care hospital beds, and Tuolumne General Hospital maintains 21 acute care beds.
We have 116 practicing physicians and 27 allied health professionals—nurse practitioners and physicians assistants. The physicians include 34 primary care specialists, 45 clinical specialists, 23 hospital-based specialists, and 14 emergency room physicians.
From 2003 to 2005 the number of primary care physicians decreased by 5; the number of nurse practitioners and physicians assistants increased by 6. Seventy-nine percent of primary care physicians accept new patients, but only twenty-eight percent of primary care physicians accept new patients with public insurance coverage. Public insurance coverage includes Medicare, Medicaid and County Medical Services Program (CMSP).