HEALTH & SAFETY INTRODUCTION
Why is this important?
To achieve prosperity, communities must first achieve
and maintain good health and security. We value high
quality, available health care, efficient emergency
services, low rates of crime and abuse, and safety
in our homes.
What did we measure?
Because the subject of community health and safety
covers many features of our daily lives, the standards
by which a community measures its quality of health
and safety are diverse. To establish an acceptable
measure of community health and safety, one must
first define a target standard of health, health
care and emergency services delivery. Many such standards
have been identified by research and are monitored
by local and state agencies. Other standards are
recognized, as specific challenges to Tuolumne County
citizens by the nature of our demographics, history
and geography. Examples of these latter measures
include motor vehicle accident rates, access to hospital
or clinic services, suicide rates and health conditions
resulting from proximity to wildlife and open forestland.
We report safety statistics, including crime rates,
motor vehicle safety, juvenile crime, and response
times for fire and emergency services.
How are we doing?
The need for health care reform is widely recognized
as a vital issue facing this nation. Tuolumne County
is a classic example of the shortcomings and strengths
of our current system. Our 150-year-old county hospital,
Tuolumne General Hospital, closed its doors to acute
care services in 2007. In the past five years, seven
primary care physicians left local practice and most
have been replaced. Access to health care services
continues to be largely controlled by managed care
and public safety net programs. Our communities are
of such a size that gaps in services are often managed
by individual solutions that are facilitated by communications
between health care providers, nonprofit organizations
and program administrators.
The most telling violent crime stat is assault,
and we are significantly above the state average
in assaults. Methamphetamine use continues to be
an issue, and negatively affects almost all aspects
of our health and safety.
Our criminal justice system is strapped by lack
of funding, decaying buildings, and an inability
to attract and retain quality staff. Law enforcement
officers are using grant dollars to augment their
operations and/or procedures and increase staffing
to further reduce crime in our locale. As an example,
the Office of Traffic Safety granted the Tuolumne
County California Highway Patrol (CHP) 2,000 hours
for additional staffing and enforcement along the
State Route 120/49/108 east/west corridor. This will
assist our local CHP in saving lives, reducing injury
and fatal accidents, and reducing criminal activity
in the areas surrounding the main artery through
Tuolumne County. However, because of State budget
constraints we are losing other grant moneys. As
a further indicator of the state of law enforcement,
our jail is letting people out early because of overcrowding.
Since education is the best crime prevention tool,
local law enforcement officers continue to be involved
in programs like Friday Night Live, Youth Leadership
Tuolumne County, and local High Schools to educate
our local youth. Finally, Tuolumne County law enforcement
agencies are actively involved in the early stages
of developing a Police Activity League (PAL) program
in our county and continue to work with the YES Partnership,
a community-based coalition focusing its work on
local youth and families to prevent substance abuse,
suicide and child abuse.