Wednesday, March 3, 2010 2:06 PM

Neighbors helping neighbors

One visit to the foothill communities around Yosemite National Park is all it takes to realize how much people who live and work there look after one another.

Living near what is often called the “Crown Jewel” of the National Park System brings with it splendid scenery and plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family. Along with that comes some challenges. It can be time consuming to have to go into “the city” – as locals call Fresno - for supplies and even doctor visits.

Well, that’s where Community Medical Center-Oakhurst comes in. Residents and tourists have relied on this facility for everything from cold and flu symptoms to broken bones after skiing accidents.

Patients Tiffany Fitzpatrick and Brandy Martin shared their experiences with viewers of Healthcare Heroes, a nationally syndicated reality TV show filmed exclusively at Community Medical Centers’ facilities. Martin says the Oakhurst facility means a lot to people in the area.

“If they weren’t here, and you have a chronic condition, you would have to drive often to Fresno,” Martin said. “Also, sometimes when people are injured or need a test, especially tourists, they don’t want to go down the hill just to get an X-ray or mammogram.”

Fitzpatrick says the service she receives at the Oakhurst campus is comforting because she knows some physicians and staff personally.

“I’ve never had a bad experience there. It’s nice knowing the people treating you,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s kind of like a big family up here.”

During her visit to Community Medical Center-Oakhurst, Fitzpatrick found out she had a kidney infection. She was placed on antibiotics, but says she is still experiencing some pain and was told to come back in.

“It helps just knowing what was wrong and what I should and should not be eating. However, I do have to get back in.”

Martin walked out of the clinic with a boot to protect the torn ligaments in her ankle. She visited the doctor again a week later and is still in pain and needs the boot for a few more weeks.

“I may get to take the boot off, but I may also need surgery if this isn’t fixing the problem,” Martin said. “This is the fourth time I’ve injured that ankle.”

Both women say they’re very glad the services offered by the intermediate care center are available to them.

“It’s really a safety link since we’re not so far from doctors,” Fitzpatrick said.

One woman who didn’t feel well enough to be interviewed by the Healthcare Heroes TV crew did poke her head out her door to say, “This place is a lifesaver.”  Brandy responded, “It really is.”

Community Medical Center-Oakhurst is located 45 minutes north of Fresno on Highway 41 and also offers radiology, mammography and diagnostic services. It isn’t an emergency department, but offers more than a traditional urgent care.

This story was reported by Cindy Suryan. She can be reached at