Top U.S. officials visit UC Merced to push for healthcare expansion in Central Valley

KSEE24 News

MERCED, Calif. (KSEE) – Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Jim Costa toured UC Merced on Friday to speak about the Central Valley’s underserved healthcare system and push for expansion of medical education.

“You know, this pandemic has taught us a few things,” said Costa. “You know, you can make personal protective equipment in a matter of months, but you can’t make doctors nor nurses.”

For decades, the Valley has faced healthcare staffing challenges.

For every 1000 people in the Valley, there is about one physician. Everywhere else in the state, there is double the number of doctors.

The pandemic has exasperated the problem as hospitals continue to face staffing shortages during spikes of hospitalizations.

Padilla and Costa continue to push for a Medical Education Project to help alleviate the burden placed on the healthcare system.

The hope is that by having students study at UC Merced and complete their residency locally, they will continue their careers in the Valley.

Padilla said healthcare infrastructure needs to be a top priority for California going forward.

“That includes updating and expanding our medical education in the Valley and throughout the state and the nation,” said Padilla. “So, I think the time is right. The time is now, and we got to get it done.”

Padilla and Costa said the next step is to push for funding through legislation both statewide and federally.

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