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Rural Health Network Development Grant...read below

Increasing Health Access in Plumas County


For more than 10 years, Sierra Institute for Community and Environment has actively engaged in local health projects to improve health access, reduce disparities, and foster community decision-making. Starting in 1999, Sierra Institute conducted focus groups with community residents and youth to explore health needs as part of the Healthy Plumas Vision 2020 project. Proyecto Salud, a multi-year participatory engagement project focused on Latina women and young children, was started in 2005 and was instrumental in empowering and defining a previously disenfranchised population in the eastern part of the county. In 2007, the Sierra Institute partnered with Plumas County Public Health Agency on an assessment of the Plumas healthcare system that provided insights to a broken infrastructure and established compelling reasons for hospitals and organizations to work together.

More than a 'research think tank,' Sierra Institute offers sustainable solutions for health issues with an eye to the intersection of environmental and wellness factors. The Sierra Institute has partnered with Plumas County Public Health Agency and others to create a Local Health Access Coalition to address pressing health access concerns, like outreach, enrollment, retention, and utilization of public benefits in communities; oral health prevention and treatment activities; alcohol, tobacco and other drug strategic planning, and conducting a county-wide community health assessment and improvement plan with all hospital districts and the Greenville Rancheria. Telemedicine continues to be an important service that Sierra Institute is supporting by funding equipment and program implementation. Language and cultural competency are improved through translation support of medical resources and trainings.


Current Events


The Rural Health Network Development Planning gran is for the purpose of improving and expanding telehealth programs at healthcare providers in a seven county, rural Northern California region.  Facilities include eleven health clinics, six Rural Critical Access Hospitals, - four of which have adjoining health clinics, and one Tribal Health Clinic, all serving a very rural clientele.  Five facilities have adjoining skilled nursing facilities. Due to the large distances between communities and difficulty of transportation, especially during the winter months, telehealth services are an important means for communities and patients to secure needed health care services.  Because of this, and in order to address the need for improved local services-including specialty services, this grant funding will be used to conduct a needs assessment and develop a strategic plan that will establish the Norther California Telehealth Network (NCTN).

The NCTN combines five facilities in Sierra and Plumas Counties that have previously worked together as part of the Northern Sierra Collaborative Health Network with 13 facilities in Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, and Trinity Counties that are part of the 299 Collaborative.  Bringing together all of these medical providers spanning seven counties into a single network will leverage, expand, and improve telehealth services, and increase access to health and especially diverse specialty services for local residents in a region the size of the states of New Hampshire and Vermont.

Developing a strategic plan that involves a network of providers will capture the strengths of individual institutions and address the challenges that have limited telehealth use to date, thereby increasing the likelihood of success.  This work will benefit both health care districts and patients, and strengthen the rural health care system in the region by offering services that are currently limited or unavailable.  The network approach will allow tailored solutions to be developed that are responsive to local needs, promote more competitive negotiation and reduce the cost of services, and provide additional services to patients sooner than they would be offered if districts were to develop and operate these independently.



Telemedicine Brings Experts to Rural Patients

Indian Valley Record-September 7, 2011-Trish Welsh Taylor

Seeing your doctor on a screen sounds impersonal, but it is one way to get doctors to patients who would otherwise not see a doctor at all, or risk taveling while suffering symptoms in bad weather.

Western Plumas Health Care's Mark Schweyer, MD, is so excited about the new telemedicine program he doesn't talk about much else.  He is the lead on EPHS's telemedicine program, having secured three years of grant funding for the program.  His colleagues and the EPHC board are equally excited.

Just as the low-dose mamography machine brings to the county a modern technology that benefits patients, telemedicine promises to increase access to diagnosis, consultation, and treatment.  EPHC Board Chairwoman Gail McGrath said of the program, "This is something we need to take advantage of."  Telemedicine is a tool of medicine.  The tech is basically a camera, a type of speaker-phone and a computer for processing the meeting.  It come on a well-styled cart with a real human being who facilitates the face-to-face screen meeting of doctor and patient.  The cameras are top notch and can zoom in to allow the medical expert to have an ultra close-up view, as would be needed in dermatology.  Patients' medical records and pertinent facts are available to doctors prior to appointments.  Read more...


With generous funding from the California Endowment and the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Sierra Institute works with a variety of partners including Plumas County Public Health Agency, Plumas County Mental Health Agency, Plumas District Hospital, Eastern Plumas Health Care, Seneca Healthcare District, the Greenville Ranchería, and the University of California, San Francisco.

County Healthcare Districts Launch Collaborative Group

In an unprecedented move that illustrates the growing importance of collaboration, Plumas District Hospital, Eastern Plumas Health Care District and Seneca District Hospital have joined together to improve health services across Plumas and Sierra Counties. The new alliance, called the Northern Sierra Collaborative Health Network (NSCHN), also includes the Plumas County Public Health Agency and Sierra County Health and Human Services, and Sierra Institute, which is co-facilitating the new group with Plumas county Public Health Agency.  Read more.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 October 2014 22:06