Healthcare provider shortage puts the Central Valley in a vulnerable position, doctors warn

Local News

FRESNO, California. (KGPE) – As California prepares for a surge in the number of COVID-19 patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to recruit thousands of healthcare workers – including those who have retired or are still in school.

On Monday, the state launched the California Health Corps to try to get more people in the workforce fast.

​”We are calling on you to step up, step in, and help us meet this moment,” said Newsom.

The Governor said Monday the state saw hospitalization rates double and ICU rates triple in the last three days. In the Central Valley, case numbers are still lower than areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles, but local doctors fear if or when that changes, the Central Valley is not equipped to handle the surge.

“We are already short on care providers, and this pandemic is just going to expose that weakness as we try to rally healthcare providers to provide the need to patients,” said Assistant Dean of Graduate Medical Education at UCSF Fresno Dr. Lori Weichenthal.

Dr. Weichenthal said UCFS Fresno is considering all options about how it’s 400 residents and fellows can help. 

​”I do know many older physicians who are making that choice to come back to work and be as much help as they can as we face a potential surge,” said Dr. Weichenthal. ​

But with any healthcare provider on the frontlines, comes risk, especially for the older generation already at-risk for contracting COVID-19. 

“That’s where the personal protective equipment is very important but certainly there’s a lot of data out there of countries that have gone before us, that our healthcare professionals are going to become ill and it’s going to shrink our ability to care for patients. We’re just going to have less providers,” said Dr. Weichenthal.

Dr. Weichenthal said those already risking their lives to save others are doing the best they can.

“I think everyone is worried about their own safety but they are also worried about the safety of their families, can they go home after work? Or do they need to separate to protect them? I think a lot of people are worried but everyone is trying to do their job and still provide the best care they can to their patients,” said Dr. Weichenthal. ​

There are certain requirements you must meet before starting work in the healthcare industry, according to Gov. Newsom.

Find more information go to the California Health Corps website.

COVID-19 resource links:

NOTE: In the above video, UCSF Fresno is mistakenly referred to as UCFS Fresno. This has been corrected in the article.

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