As the economy worsens and
more layoffs are announced every day,
more and more people are
finding themselves without health insurance.
Many of you are turning to us—the county health system—for care.
Hello, I am Dr. William Walker, the
director of Contra Costa Health Services here to
talk to you about the situation we're facing.
For many years, our County health department has
struggled with how to serve
Contra Costa residents most effectively with
what never seems to be enough resources.
A number of years ago when our
patients complained about the
very long waits in our Health Centers,
we redesigned our appointment process and
dramatically reduced the waits.
I wish I could tell you we can do that now—when our Medical Center, eight health centers and
programs, like the WIC nutritional program for
women, infants and children—are being
strained to the breaking point.
We know that there are long waits on the
phone for those of you who find yourself or
your family members needing health care after
having lost your regular health provider.
We know it's hard to get an
appointment in our system.
And we know people—
our long-time patients and newcomers—are frustrated that they have to wait for
long periods of time on the phone to talk to
someone to get an appointment, and
then to discover they may not be able to
get an appointment as soon as they would like or
in the location they prefer.
We're trying to help address the problem by
taking a look at how to best use our
appointment locations and where we might
be able to create extra slots in our
Health Centers and our mobile health clinics.
We have already identified additional
appointment slots for both children and
adults and we are still working on more.
I wish I could say that these efforts will
be enough and the long waits will disappear.
The fact is that even more people will
probably be calling to get health care from us in
the coming months at a time when we are
facing significant budget cuts.
The federal Economic Stimulus plan may
provide some relief, but the
state budget may require more cuts.
Our mission is to care for and improve the health of
all people in Contra Costa County with
special attention to those who are
most vulnerable to health problems.
We are doing our best during these trying times to
accomplish that mission.
As a safety net for those growing numbers of
Contra Costa residents who need our help,
we are working hard to keep that net from
Thank you for listening.