Residents in the Antelope Valley region, an area located in northern Los Angeles County, face higher mortality rates than others in their county, and doctors speculate that African-American residents of the High Desert area are facing shorter life expectancy rates due to several outside factors, reports the Los Angeles Times.
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The numbers tell the story: African-American residents of the region die four years earlier than other Blacks in the county, and African-Americans die a decade sooner than all county residents. Although there has been no official study on the rise in deaths among Blacks, doctors point to the fact that adequate health care access is limited for many in the region. The apathy toward professional health treatment is linked to the high level of residents who are uninsured, which numbered 87,000 by last count.
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“It’s hard to see doctors, period,” said 56-year old Vicki Harris to the Times. Harris was injured in a drive-by shooting in the ’80s while living in Los Angeles. She contracted Hepatitis C via a blood transfusion and is suffering with other ailments. Her struggles indicate that practitioners in the region aren’t friendly to her plight. “No one really wants to take your plan,” she said.
Because of the high rate of uninsured residents seeking care, the Antelope Valley Community Clinic has been overwhelmed by the demand. The facility said that they expect 70,000 patients this year, up 22,000 from 2010.
Also impacting the region is a lack of specialists who treat a wider range of ailments beyond the scope of general practice doctors. Then there is the lack of reliable public transportation that has Black residents stranded at home and unable to afford expensive taxi cab fare to shuttle themselves to doctor visits.
In the city of Lancaster, Mayor R. Rex Parris alleges that Los Angeles County officials have been urging Section 8 voucher holders to move to the troubled region without warning them about the area’s challenging health care issues.
“They are sending poor people [here] to die,” Parris has said. “No one who is suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease would voluntarily move to the Antelope Valley if they knew they would die many years earlier as a result.”