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This story was produced by Joshua Yeager for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2020 California Fellowship.   
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This article was produced as a project for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2018 California Fellowship.
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When I left for a week of reporting in rural California in late February, I didn't know I would come back with two stories about the devastating health consequences of isolation.

I'm not just talking about the geographic isolation one finds in a remote area. From the hilly evergreen landscape of eastern Shasta County, to the agricultural flatlands of Tulare County in the South Central Valley, I witnessed how isolation can leave people in the dark about keeping healthy, lead to emotional despair, and pose real barriers to quality of life.

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Recent studies have found statistical links between pesticide use and an outbreak of Parkinson's disease in California farm towns. Researchers even know which chemicals are the likely culprits. What's the government doing about it? Not much.

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My two articles (I was originally writing three, but ended up with two lengthy articles) for the Fellowship were definitely acquired through an illuminating process.

Over and over I encountered heads of medical institutions in the area who gave me their polished spin on why there weren't enough physicians in the area and why our huge Medi-Cal population wasn't being served. The two are intertwined as not having enough doctors/resources for the privately insured means that the physicians who DO live here will flock to the patients who pay. Which are not Medi-Cal patients.

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The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team.

Let us support your next ambitious health reporting project through our National Fellowship program. Apply today.

Nowhere was the massive COVID wave of winter 2021 more devastating than in America’s nursing homes, where 71,000 residents died in the surge. In this webinar, we’ll hear from the lead reporter in the USA Today series "Dying for Care," who will show how an original data analysis and an exhaustive reporting effort revealed a pattern of unnecessary deaths that compounded the pandemic’s brutal toll. Sign-up here!

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