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Doctor Drain

Source: California Department of Public Health. Illustration: Bryant Anderson and Kyle Curtis
Del Norters are 37 percent more likely to die than Californians as a whole, yet the number of physicians available to treat them has declined dramatically since 2004 

As debates over the future of Sutter Coast Hospital continue to divide the local medical community, new statistics paint a sickly portrait of health in Del Norte County, where there are half as many doctors today as there were a decade ago. 

Having enough providers plays an important role in whether people can access health care, according to the California Department of Public Health, data from which showed local residents are 37 percent more likely to die each year than Californians as a whole. Cancer kills at a 30 percent higher rate in Del Norte than the state average, while heart disease outpaces the norm by 13 percent. 

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