ACCESS: El Dorado County Takes Community Approach
"El Dorado County is taking a community approach to providing health care for its scattered rural population," the Sacramento Business Journal reports. El Dorado County community groups are banding together to bring quality medical care to the estimated 25,000 residents who have limited access. The Placerville-based Marshall Hospital, local school districts and the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce are "all active in a series of initiatives to deliver care to the uninsured and underinsured."
Outpatient Clinic Reaches Out
In the Georgetown Divide area, Marshall Hospital has opened the Divide Wellness Center, an outpatient clinic "staffed by a nurse practitioner, family advocates and social service agencies." Made possible by a federal grant of almost $300,000, the clinic is "now self-sufficient," the Business Journal reports. The clinic has a fixed rate for its services, provides a flexible payment plan and refers patients to specialists as needed, according to Mark Miller, Marshall's Director of Primary Care Services. "Before the Divide Wellness Center opened, we had to drive 40 minutes to either Placerville or Auburn for health care. The clinic provides us with a good service and it's close," said Pat Wrinkle, a local patient.
Mobile Medical Care
Starting this month, "a mobile clinic run out of a 40-foot converted bus" will go to "some isolated areas of the county like Pollock Pines, Somerset and the Rescue/Cameron Park area," according to Miller. Funded by a $600,000 grant, the bus "will have two examining rooms staffed by a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant." County officials also hope to use local schools "to help spread the word that the bus is on its way." County School Superintendent and Marshall board member Vicki Barber said, "We have access to children and their families and we provide information to them to ensure that they're aware of the resources in the community."
Health On The Range
Marshall also plans to open a "health depot" next month that will convert a Placerville garage into a clinic "to serve uninsured ranch workers." Funded by a $125,000 California Office of Rural Health grant, the new health depot is "an outpost where people can drop in for services," said El Dorado Director of Public Health Services Gayle Erbe-Hamlin. The county plans to develop a specialty care referral system, a network of rural and health services and a committee to "improve and monitor" care for the uninsured, underinsured and Medi-Cal recipients. It also will encourage business sector involvement in the area's health care. "Our goal is to integrate the business community into our goals and ensure a healthy economy. If we don't have a healthy community, they won't be buying goods, they'll have trouble getting jobs and won't report for work," said Miller (Panneton, 2/9 issue).