OUTREACH HERO: Bee Profiles Doctor, Advocate for Poor
Today's Sacramento Bee profiles Dr. Gil Simon, a pediatrician who has weathered a decade-long financial "roller coaster ride" while remaining committed to providing health care to the area's impoverished children. "Gil Simon was serving this population before we had Healthy Families," explained state Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), applauding the doctor's efforts to bring health care to uninsured children. Simon cares for 30,000 patients, "two-thirds of them on Medi-Cal," through seven Sacramento-area clinics. Not long after Simon left his teaching position at University of California-Davis and started his first, "tiny" clinic a decade ago, he realized that many poor people forgo medical care because of transportation hassles. Upon hearing this, "he converted the family RV into a clinic-on-wheels" and scouted housing projects, food lockers and homeless shelters in an effort to identify the areas that needed clinics. And when Sacramento County launched the Geographic Managed Care program and ushered the area's Medi-Cal recipients into HMOs, Simon signed contracts with "five of the six HMOs that operated under Sacramento's GMC umbrella" and expanded his practice to include adults. Simon has proved instrumental in herding eligible children into Healthy Families, calling the program "spectacular." He said, "We are personally embarking on a massive outreach." Ortiz noted that Simon's "experience and advice have been valuable assets in designing a strategy to fix some of the program's problems." She said, "He has a unique understanding of the working poor and immigrant families. He has been serving those who would never be served elsewhere" (Dor Perkins, 1/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.