SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- We have new information on changes coming to healthcare in the form of the Affordable Care Act.
Santa Cruz County is launching a new effort to help women and children. Four of the largest healthcare providers in the county are coming together to prepare low-income women and children with better access to services. This effort comes as communities across the nation are trying to prepare for the onslaught of changes and increased patient visits as the Affordable Care Act moves forward.
For Christine Maddox, being able to depend on the Santa Cruz Women's Health Center for services, means she's able to get help when she needs it the most.
"I've been sent to a lot of doctors. I had three back surgeries in the last three years and I'm still fighting other problems," said patient Christine Maddox.
But being uninsured, means she can only afford certain services.
"When I became unemployed, I was pregnant and they helped me go through that," Maddox said.
Christine said being able to come into one of these rooms and sit down on a patient table, means she's be able to keep track of her health over the years. One of her occasional concerns is being able to get an appointment when she needs it. That's because the clinic currently serves thousands of patients with only eight rooms available.
"It's really hard to get an appointment. I've waited three weeks to see my doctor for a broken or whatever they call it in the back," Maddox said.
So to prepare for additional people who will have insurance under the new reforms, investments from the clinic, Dominican Hospital, Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, will pay for a new location in Live Oak next year. Between the two locations, about 10,000 women, children and now men will get better access to services-twice as many as it can serve right now.
"Maybe it'll take some of the people off of here and you can get your appointment on time and you can get an appointment when you need it," Maddox said.
The idea is to keep patients from heading to hospitals, because costs at an emergency room are much higher than at a clinic.
Congressman Sam Farr is backing the effort. In his opinion, Santa Cruz is leading the country in providing access to services and opportunities to stay healthy within the community. But we've told you about the preventative work also being done at Salinas hospitals as well.