September 6, 2010; Source: Sacramento Bee | In far Northern California, rural health and dental clinics are disappearing, leaving local residents without viable options for care, even in emergencies. The closings are at least in large part due to cutbacks at the state level in programs designed to support rural clinics combined with many more patients without insurance. This article discusses the degree to which residents are now forced to delay and forego necessary treatment for chronic and worsening conditions.

Six clinics have now closed in Mendocino County, Humboldt County, Colusa County, Butte County and Lassen County.

There are 800 nonprofit clinics registered with the California Primary Care Association but according to the article the six are vital because they serve rural and isolated areas and they are not the only ones affected since many other rural clinics have had to cut back operations to remain solvent. The association’s spokesman says the past year’s closings are unusual. He thinks that another two dozen rural clinics in California may be at risk.

This current and impending loss of vital infrastructure in rural areas should be unacceptable to us all.

I look forward to seeing colleagues and neighbors of these valuable clinics in September when I speak at the NorCAN Regional Nonprofit Conference in Humboldt County.—Ruth McCambridge