By Contra Costa County Supervisor, Candace Anderson
Contra Costa Health Provides Needed Assistance in Wake of Doctors Medical Center Closure
Doctor’s Medical Center (Doctor’s) in San Pablo closed its doors on April 21, 2015. It was not a County Hospital, but run by the West Contra Costa Healthcare District. The County has the legal obligation to provide care for the indigent and poor, and Doctor’s served much of that same population. The County understood that it would need to coordinate with other medical providers and help fill the gap in rendering medical care to the people of West Contra Costa.
Since the closure of Doctor’s many residents of West Contra Costa County have been receiving medical assistance from Contra Costa’s Health Plan’s (CCHP) Advice Nurse and through the non-profit LifeLong Urgent Care Clinic, located across the street from Doctor’s. At a recent Board of Supervisor’s meeting a doctor estimated that 80 to 85% of the patients visiting the Doctor’s Emergency Room could have been treated at an Urgent Care clinic. Since April 21st, CCHP’s Nurse Unit has fielded 2,843 calls from West County residents and made 357 referrals to LifeLong Urgent Care. CCHP has partnered with LifeLong Medical Care to ensure that residents of West Contra Costa continue to have adequate medical care and facilities.
Advice nurses can help patients figure out if they need to go to an Emergency Room, visit an urgent care clinic or make an appointment for the next day. Advice nurses also can provide information for self-care. They handle minor issues like a sore throat, earache, urinary tract infection, sinus infection symptoms, and other nonlife-threatening conditions. CCHP Advice Nurses have helped many callers meet their needs without having to go to an Emergency Room or seek Urgent Care. Uninsured County residents can call CCHP ’s 24/7 advice nurse line for free. That number is 1-877-661-6230 option 1. Other major private insurance companies provide their own Nurse Hot Lines.
Advice Nurses in West County may suggest residents visit LifeLong Urgent Care. LifeLong Medical Care is an innovative, nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center serving Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin Counties. LifeLong has 11 primary care medical centers, two dental centers, an adult day health center, four school-based health centers and a supportive housing program. Their mission is stated as “to provide high quality urgent care services in a caring and convenient environment by focusing on your needs from the time you walk through our door until the time you leave.” The clinic provides immediate care for walk-ins or same-day appointments for patients who need timely medical care but who are not having a medical emergency. Lifelong Urgent Care has now treated more than 1,587 patients averaging 30/day. LifeLong Urgent Care is located at 2023 Vale Road, San Pablo, CA 94806. They are open 7 days a week, 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The facility can be reached at (510) 231-9800, and on the web at www.lifelongmedical.org. Both uninsured and insured residents are welcomed at the facility.
With the closure of Doctor’s, there has also been an impact on local Emergency Rooms where critically ill and injured patients need to be seen. Kaiser Richmond, Alta Bates in Berkeley, and our County Hospital in Martinez are all seeing a higher volume of patients. This increase began last fall when the County’s Emergency Medical System began the process of dispatching ambulances to hospitals other than Doctor’s.
CCHP has also been distributing handouts listing healthcare resources for West County residents, available in several languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Laotian. Contra Costa Health, in partnership with LifeLong Medical and other facilities, has been able to successfully provide necessary medical care to many of the residents of West Contra Costa County in the wake of Doctor’s Medical Center’s closure. While there will likely be more changes ahead, what could have been a serious healthcare crisis is being averted through this public and private partnership of care.
My office is here to serve the residents of Contra Costa County District 2, which includes San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Saranap, Parkmead, Lafayette, Moraga, Canyon and Orinda. A special thanks to summer intern Peter Hutchins for his contributions to this article. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can provide you with additional information on this topic or on other County issues. I can be reached at [email protected] or 925-957-8860.