In a region with high birth rates and where children make up 30% of the population, the need for pediatric care is growing faster here than elsewhere in California. And our region faces greater pediatric healthcare challenges than the rest of the state, with premature birth rates among the highest in California and rivaling rates in some third-world countries.
Within a decade, the number of children in the Valley under the age of 10 will reach nearly half a million, the largest age group in a region that suffers from a shortage of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. Childhood asthma rates and associated emergency room visits are nearly twice that of the rest of the state. In Fresno County, 10% of babies are born premature, often needing years of specialized follow-up care and Community Regional Medical Center is among the top three hospitals in the state for the number of babies it delivers every year weighing under 3 lbs. 5 oz.
Community Medical Centers has a long history of stepping up to fill gaps in children’s healthcare needs, with specialized burn care, Level 1 trauma services and children’s clinics staffed partly through its 40-year partnership with the University of California, San Francisco’s medical school. Last year, there were 71,000 pediatric visits to Community’s clinics and hospitals, 16% of all care, and more than 10,000 babies born, 61% of all Fresno County births.
Reported by Erin Kennedy. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@communitymedical.org