CenCal Health funds physician recruitment, medical equipment at three area health centers
Four new physicians – three primary care doctors and one pediatrician – were recently hired by Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC). The health care provider employed these medical professionals for its clinics in Lompoc, Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria, through funding made possible by CenCal Health, the publicly-sponsored health plan for Medi-Cal in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC) recruited a pediatrician for its Goleta clinic, as well as a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Santa Barbara, also with funds granted by CenCal Health. By October, six new medical practitioners will be serving local communities because of a unique initiative that covers physician recruitment costs, among other improvements for patient care.
At the beginning of 2021, in response to noted gaps in access to health care locally, CenCal Health implemented a Network Access Improvement program. The initiative focuses on increasing primary and specialty care capacity for local Medi-Cal members, as well as improving access to care for children and disabled members. These priorities are accomplished in two ways – by recruiting new medical professionals to the health plan’s network, and by funding specialized medical equipment such as audiology testing devices, vaccine refrigerators and exam room apparatus that accommodates the needs of mobility-impaired patients.
In the next few years, the Central Coast will experience a wave of retiring physicians. CenCal Health’s Network Access Improvement program proactively addresses this future physician shortage, and strives to attract new specialists to the area.
“Our provider partners often experience difficulty recruiting medical professionals from outside of our service area, who are willing to relocate to serve the underserved in our neighborhoods,” said CenCal Health Provider Services Director Terri Howell. “It’s important that we support our partners in employing more medical experts, who in turn, can serve more of our members.”
CenCal Health offered additional dollars to fund medical equipment that will improve access to health care for children, seniors and disabled patients. The health plan has especially seen gaps in care related to patients’ mobility. CHC received funding approval for a power adjustable, hi-low treatment table to help disabled patients transfer from their wheelchair to the exam table. SBNC has been authorized funds for one Hoyer lift to support patient mobility in its Isla Vista clinic, and the Lompoc Health Care Center of Santa Barbara County Public Health will receive funds for an audiometry machine.
CenCal Health’s funding assistance was also extended to providers who participate in the Child Health and Disability Prevention program for the purchase of Vaccines for Children-compliant refrigerators. CHC qualified to receive one of the purpose-built refrigerated storage units that maintains proper temperatures to protect the viability of infant and childhood vaccines.
“CHC is dedicated to providing primary care and specialty services to Medi-Cal members and underserved, uninsured populations to ensure health equity and quality healthcare,” said Vince Surra, Chief Operations Officer at CHC. “We are very appreciative to have partnered with CenCal Health to help recruit and build a strong network of culturally competent providers on the Central Coast.”
About CenCal Health
CenCal Health is a community-accountable health plan that partners with over 1,500 local physicians, hospitals and other providers in delivering patient care to more than 206,000 members – about one in four residents of Santa Barbara County and one in five residents of San Luis Obispo County. A public agency, the health plan contributes approximately $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve its membership. Established in 1983, it is the oldest managed care Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation. View its annual Community Report at cencal2020.org
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