UC Merced creating better future for health care in the Valley

Source: Westside Connect, Staff Reports

Assemblymember Adam Gray and Rep. Jim Costa gave Sen. Alex Padilla a glimpse of the future of healthcare in the Valley.

California’s newest US Senator came to the University of California, Merced on Sept. 17 for a medical education roundtable to discuss plans for a state-of-the-art medical education building in the midst of the most modern campus in America. It would have a prominent place on a gleaming campus filled with 10,000 students and faculty.

“This campus is proof that actions speak louder than words,” Gray said. “We’re proud to show Senator Padilla – or anyone else – what we’re achieving here.”

A medical school has been envisioned for the campus since its inception. And the need to find more doctors for the Valley is undeniable.

Chancellor Juan Sanchez Munoz told those participating in a medical education roundtable that the Valley is “conspicuously underserved” with far fewer general practitioners and nurses and only a faction of the specialists that treat the rest of California.

A 2018 study conducted at the request of Assemblymember Gray demonstrated the chasm between the availability of medical treatment in California’s urban areas and the San Joaquin Valley. Gray has often highlighted the Valley’s stark health care workforce shortage, including that there are 3 times more doctors for each Bay Area resident than for residents of the Valley.

“Health care disparities kill,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Gregg Camfield. “Working on these disparities is part of our mission.”

Padilla and Costa are both involved with negotiations in Washington on budget and infrastructure bills which have taken on greater importance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed some 675,000 Americans.