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As part of the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, journalists work with a senior fellow to develop a special project. Recent projects have examined health disparities by ZIP code in the San Francisco Bay Area, anxiety disorders and depression in the Hispanic immigrant community in Washington state, and the importance of foreign-born doctors to health care in rural communities.
Brigham Young University professor Michael Dunn, left, works with Rancho Markets’ Jorge Morales to make tortillas fortified with folic acid in Provo, Utah. Dunn is conducting experiments that could lead the Food and Drug Administration to allow fortification of corn masa — a staple grain in Hispanic diets. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
A food scientist’s experiments could lead to the addition of the vitamin folic acid to corn-masa flour, a move that could help stop a growing number of fatal birth defects in three Washington counties.
“Sometimes I think I’m just about to fall asleep,” said Juana Garcia, a mother with five children, two chronic diseases, one waterless home and zero income. “But then I start thinking, what am I going to do about water? Will I last much longer here? Yes, mentally I get very stressed out.”
Carsten Koall/Getty Images Interventions that head off medical costs can be deceptively simple.
When it comes to "super-utilizers," improving health and saving money is the only measure of success for many in the industry. Some programs have achieved those twin objectives, but some wonder if that bar is too high for a group of patients who've often endured decades of poverty and trauma.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images Proper care for certain patients could save $300 billion annually, says consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
The idea is simple: Health care providers leave the exam room and spend more time developing relationships with patients in their kitchens and living rooms. But can such an approach actually keep chronically ill patients from landing in the hospital over and over again?
Jodi Hilton/Getty Images Dr. Seth Berkowitz at Massachusetts General Hospital is piloting a program that he thinks just might work for his diabetic patients. As part of the program, patients have medically tailored meals delivered to their homes.
Can the American health care system save money and improve health by spending more on social services for the most expensive patients, the so-called super-utilizers? It sounds like a promising approach, but as Marketplace's Dan Gorenstein reports, the challenges are fierce.
Juana Garcia, 49, watches as volunteers Donna Johnson, 72, center, and Ruben Perez, 68, deliver non-potable water to barrels on her back porch in East Porterville, California on June 4, 2015. Garcia, who suffers from lupus and arthritis, has difficulty lifting heavy objects and making the 15 minute walk with her children to a local church for showers several times a week. | SILVIA FLORES sflores@fresnobee.com
Nearly a year and a half after the Central Valley town of East Porterville reported its first dry well, residents and experts say not having running water and breathing increasingly dusty air is worsening their pre-existing health issues and contributing to the development of new ones.
In recent years, Fresno County has seen an alarming number of new HIV and AIDS cases. Among the concerns: More young people are becoming infected, programs that had been helping patients for decades have had their budgets slashed, and many people aren't receiving treatment.
Bishop Jaime Soto of the Sacramento Catholic Diocese waits to speak at a Sacramento County supervisors workshop held to consider options for restoring healthcare assistance to immigrants in the country illegally. (Lezlie Sterling)
Facing a $55-million deficit during the Great Recession, Sacramento County officials made a choice: To save money, they would close their free health clinics to people who entered the country illegally. Six years later, they want to reverse that decision.
Advocates for a bill to provide healthcare to undocumented immigrants rally in at the Capitol in Sacramento. (Hector Amezcua)
As Gov. Jerry Brown struck a budget deal Tuesday that would offer healthcare to children in the country illegally, Sacramento County supervisors — sitting less than a mile away — also agreed to provide medical care for county residents who lack papers.
Juana Garcia, 49, watches as volunteers Donna Johnson, 72, center, and Ruben Perez, 68, deliver non-potable water to barrels on her back porch in East Porterville, California on June 4, 2015. Garcia, who suffers from lupus and arthritis, has difficulty lifting heavy objects and making the 15 minute walk with her children to a local church for showers several times a week. SILVIA FLORES sflores@fresnobee.com
This story is the first in an occasional series about the drought’s effects on health. Andrea Castillo’s reporting was undertaken for the California Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism.

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