When Verna Laboy goes over the paperwork for black residents in a local health program, it’s what she doesn’t see that gives her pause.
In the space where there should be a primary care provider, there’s no name written. Instead, she finds again and again, “N/A.”
Laboy, a health educator at the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, knows “not available” doesn’t accurately describe the local primary care landscape. Boone County has one of the best ratios of primary care physicians to residents in the state, according to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, a program that annually measures health at the county level.
And then there’s Columbia, touted as a city that brims with health care providers, thanks to the presence of a bustling medical school and residency program, as well as multiple hospitals and clinics.
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