Representing rural counties in the Northern California, Butte-Glenn Medical Society has witnessed troubling statistics about a lack of primary care physicians in the area. Some other specialty physicians have also been in high demand in the area, such as pediatricians, dermatologists and others. Mental health and dental care have also been challenging to provide. But since the Camp Fire of November 2018, access to care issues have worsened.
As Healthcare Leaders, the Butte-Glenn Medical Society Board of Directors decided to take action and sought funding to address short and long-term solutions. We believe that everyone in our counties deserves quality and timely care with the appropriate provider. With thanks to Physicians for a Healthy California and the California Medical Association as well as the North Valley Community Foundation/Butte Strong Fund, we are able to commit to the following:
- Update printed directory and distribute at the California CareForce clinic on August 3 and 4 at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico. This directory will list all physicians in the area, regardless of membership, as well as long-term care facilities, hospitals throughout the region, and other comprehensive information regarding the medical community for Camp Fire survivors who are treated at the clinic and may require further care.
- Create similar printed directory to distribute to all practice staff in the area later in August or September and make all directory information available on our website.
- Produce a summit on September 18 on "Restoring the Healthcare Infrastructure, Restoring Community."
- Provide seed money to create residency programs
- Give direct funds to physicians who lost their homes or practices
- Support recruitment packages as area medical staff and clinics bring physicians to the area, who will face higher than normal living costs as rental homes, long-term hotels, apartments and houses for sale continue to be in high demand and low supply in the area
- Launch a robust Physician Wellness Program
- Hire Access to Care Program Manager for a one-year contract and expand office space to accommodate interns from CSU Chico, as well.
Timeline of Access to Care Program and Camp Fire Recovery
November and December 2018: The Board and Executive Director Pam Nelson tracked all physicians and practice staff who were impacted by the fire, either losing homes or clinical facilities. The population of approximately 26,000 residents in Paradise and its neighboring towns dispersed through the country, with approximately 10,000 settling in Chico. Approximately 6,000 residents in Magalia also lost their healthcare providers.
January and February 2019: The Butte-Glenn Medical Society partnered with the California Telehealth Network to encourage physicians to use Telehealth and other innovative solutions to reach patients throughout the region. Eric Brown, President of CTN, spoke to the Butte-Glenn Medical Society's first general meeting since the fire on February 6. This dinner was provided free to members, thanks to the immediate and unrestricted gifts from colleagues at other medical societis: Placer-Nevada County Medical Society's foundation, the Sierra Community Health Foundation; Fresno-Madera Medical Association; Sierra-Sacramento Valley Medical Society; Los Angeles County Medical Association. These funds enabled the Butte-Glenn Medical Society to address critical operational and communications needs.
March, April and June 2019: The Butte-Glenn Medical Society focused on Aegis grant funds which enabled our strong and active opioid coalition to implement important projects. We also launched a Physician Wellness Program to help "heal the healer" as many physicians suffer from burn out, as well as trauma of losing their homes or practices, while treating patients with PTSD from the Camp Fire. Butte-Glenn Medical Society and the California Psychologists Association Pacific Cascades Chapter forge a partnership.
July 2019: Physicians for a Healthy California and the California Medical Association provide $212,000 in grant funds for Butte-Glenn Medical Society to address the access to care issue. North Valley Community Foundation and the Butte Strong Fund provide $25,000 in grant funds for BGMS to create the Summit in September. Grant funds will be used to implement the solutions mentioned above.