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 adequate hospitals and
practitioners in a community are critical components
of health care access.
What is the measure?
We used the numbers of practicing physicians
and allied health professionals per capita
as measures of access to health care.
How are we doing?
In 2007 our 150-year-old county hospital,
Tuolumne General Hospital, closed acute care
and emergency room operations. Our hospital
services are now provided by one remaining
privately owned community hospital, Sonora
Regional Medical Center, built in 2004. With
this change, the total hospital bed count for
the county has decreased from 105 to 84 acute
care beds. The decrease in available emergency
room space has been partly mitigated by an
expansion of urgent care and outpatient clinic
Our community is served by 144 practicing
physicians and 28 allied health professionals,
including nurse practitioners, physician assistants
and clinical psychologists. We have a broad
array of physician specialties, including 35
primary care physicians (family practice, internal
medicine and pediatric), 49 clinical specialists,
41 hospital-based specialists and 19 emergency
From 2005 to 2008 the number of local primary
care physicians remained stable despite some
movement of physicians into and out of our
communities. With the addition of a pulmonologist,
plastic surgeon, general surgeon and vascular
surgeon, access to local physician specialists