County medical service on the move | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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County medical service on the move

B.H. Bose

El Dorado County residents, especially those in rural areas, may soon have mobile medical services visiting their neighborhoods.

The Board of Supervisors has approved the transfer of $70,000 to the public health department to help fund the acquisition of a mobile clinic.

The Sierra Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization, made the $70,000 grant, according to Lois Hathway, grant manager for the El Dorado County Public Health Department. Ultimately, $200,000 will be needed to purchase the vehicle and put it in the field by mid-summer. Even though the funding is short $130,000, there are several options to get the medical mobile service operating within the next several months.

The county also has requested funding from the California Endowment, a nonprofit organization located in Sacramento. That money will support non-medical efforts, Hathway added, such as family advocacy and outreach services.

“The funding is to provide the community with non-medical services that will be helpful to make sure they will remain healthy in the long run; things like firewood, clothing and food,” Hathway said.

The mobile clinic program also will receive an annual grant of $100,000 for the next three years from the federal government – specifically from the Office of Rural Health Outreach, Hathway explained. That money will be used to staff the clinic.

So far, one staff member, nurse practitioner Michelle Telford-Vegas, has been hired. Telford-Vegas, with one medical assistant and driver, will operate the clinic throughout the county.

“The goal is to serve those people who are having a tough time getting into the hospital because of weather, roads, or other issues,” Telford-Vegas said. “The hope is to also reach people who have no insurance to those who have insurance.”

The clinic will target county rural areas, such as Pollock Pines and then expand into Somerset, Pleasant Valley, and surrounding areas. There are no immediate plans for the clinic to set up in the South Lake Tahoe area.

“Anything at this point is possible. Right now we are targeting areas that need immediate attention and care, and those who have a tough time getting into Marshall (Hospital),” Telford-Vegas said.

While Telford-Vegas said it is a modification of the old, “house call” type of doctor service, the clinic will not be going to residential homes. Rather, it will set up in parking lots of local supermarkets or community centers. Operating hours have yet to be determined, however Telford-Vegas knows they will last until at least 7:30 p.m. to accommodate working parents. It will be open on Saturdays.

“This is a very good idea. I like the idea of helping people who have a hard time accessing health care,” she said. “It will be a big undertaking and very challenging, but it will be really nice helping people who just can’t get into town.”

Both Telford-Vegas and Hathway hope the mobile clinic will be serving the public within three months.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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