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October 21, 2021

Mee Memorial doctor reads to youth in Greenfield, King City

Events kick off early celebrations for Rural Health Day

KING CITY — A Mee Memorial Healthcare System doctor will host two book readings for local youth this week, kicking off a series of celebrations prior to National Rural Health Day in November.

Dr. Joshua Deutsch, a family physician at Mee Memorial in King City and Greenfield, has authored 10 children’s books created for free distribution in farmworking communities.

“Some of his books are wordless, allowing indigenous language speakers and parents who don’t read to engage in bedtime storytelling with their children,” according to Mee Memorial. The books address important health-related themes, including nutrition, physical activity and diabetes, and also feature characters of indigenous and Latin American descent.

Deutsch’s book readings are planned for Thursday, Oct. 7, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at Vineyard Green Townhomes, 130 13th St., in Greenfield; and Friday, Oct. 8, from 5 to 6 p.m. at Villa San Miguel, 1201 Amherst Dr., in King City.

Both locations are after-school groups for youth provided by Sol Treasures, a CHISPA community service partner that provides both in-person art classes and art kits as an after-school activity. Groups typically consist of about 16 to 24 children, ages 7 to 12.

Deutsch formed the nonprofit Justice with Health to manage the book program and other planned initiatives. In August, he distributed 18,000 of his books at about $1 each to Mee Memorial, Natividad Medical Center, Alisal Clinic and Touro Medical School as part of the opening launch.

The program uses economy of scale to lower costs and make book distribution affordable to health centers. In addition, the books are available for free download from justicewithhealth.com.

Rural Health Day

Each year, the third Thursday in November is set aside to highlight rural communities as wonderful places to live and work, to increase awareness of rural health-related issues and to promote the efforts of organizations that address these issues.

As the only comprehensive medical services within 40 miles of its base in King City, Mee Memorial Healthcare System will celebrate National Rural Health Day with its neighbors on Thursday, Nov. 18.

This year’s theme is “Celebrate the Power of Rural,” with plans to honor the community-minded spirit that prevails in the American countryside. According to Mee Memorial, “There are many advantages to living in rural areas, among them less noise, more privacy, a close proximity to nature and a strong sense of community.”

As part of those efforts, Mee Memorial has launched a poster contest that is open to all South Monterey County public and private students, from kindergarten to 12th grade. Poster submissions should reflect the 2021 theme.

Prizes will be awarded to individuals, as well as to classrooms, for first, second and third places. Winners will be announced on Rural Health Day, Nov. 18.

Entries will be accepted through Friday, Nov. 12. Students must send a photo or a PDF via email to [email protected] or through the U.S. mail (postmarked on or before Nov. 12) to: 1320-B Main St., #235 Salinas, CA 93901-2109.

“An estimated 57 million people — nearly 1 in 5 Americans — live in rural communities throughout the United States,” Mee Memorial stated in a news release. “Many of these rural communities face a variety of barriers that adversely affect their overall physical, social and mental health status.”

According to the National Rural Health Association, statistics show that although 25% of Americans live in rural areas, only 10% of physicians practice in them, and about 20% of rural counties lack not only basic mental health services but any mental health services at all. Over the past 25 years, more than 500 rural hospitals have closed across the country.

To better prepare rural healthcare leaders for the future, the National Rural Health Association has instituted a CEO Certification Program. Among the 26 graduates in September was Mee Memorial CEO Rena Salamacha.

“Successful rural hospital CEOs developed the program to help current rural hospital CEOs strengthen their leadership skills and lead their hospital to success,” Mee Memorial stated.

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.
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