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07.30.08

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News Blast

By P. Joseph Potocki


Don't get Sick 'til 2020

When Santa Rosa's Sutter Medical facility dropped its semi-detonated closure-bomb last year, Sonoma County's board of supervisors was compelled to act. They created Health Action, a 31-member forum to discuss, analyze and provide solutions to the county's ongoing medical crisis.

One year later, Health Action has just released its plan, titled "A 2020 Vision for Sonoma County." County Supe Tim Smith, a co-chair of Health Action, says, "We have a plan of action that we believe will help Sonoma County become one of the healthiest places to live in California." The study's three-step approach determines that area residents will

• have access to affordable healthy food and adopt healthy eating habits;

• regularly participate in physical activities;

• have both primary and preventative care providers.

All of which sounds fantastic, but . . .

More than 42,000 Sonoma County residents currently find themselves scraping the bottom of one deep, dark and medically uninsured pot. Toss in tens of thousands more who aren't adequately covered. Add to this financially strapped county hospitals and care facilities that continue to layoff personnel, cut services, close or are voted down. Now pluck out growing numbers of professional healthcare providers racing away to distant climes. Season the pot with expected state and federal support cuts; cuts to school phys-ed, intramural, after-school and team sports programs; proposed state park closures; pre-conditioned persons denied private medical coverage; rising food, prescription and health insurance costs; and finish the whole mess off with skyrocketing North Bay bankruptcies.

It's one hellish ragout, this cannibal stew bubbling away inside the seemingly depthless pot that is our nation's phantom healthcare policy. So, one question that might be posed, is this: Just how will Health Action's three laudable goals realistically get accomplished over the next 12 years?

That and myriad other inquiries will no doubt be addressed over the next six weeks as county residents gather to make their voices heard in public input gathering sessions hosted by Health Action members throughout Sonoma County.

"If we do this right," Smith says, "the kids entering first grade this fall will be light years ahead of us in terms of health know-how when they graduate from high school in the year 2020."


For more information, or to locate a Health Action public meeting near you go to www.sonomahealthaction.org or call Bob Klose at 707.824.8332.


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