If you need to talk about common ailments to a doctor in Stonyford, Anthem Blue Cross and the Ministerial Association of Colusa County can make that happen.
Thursday’s launch of the first Telehealth and Community Health Program site in Stonyford drew a great deal of interest from the foothill community. A second site is to be opened in Colusa, before eventually being made available in all local communities, thanks to the joint effort.
Those who often find it difficult to make it to the doctor’s office to get a refill of a routine prescription or talk to a behavioral health specialist can now get help at the touch of an icon.
“Anthem has been so generous to our organization,” said Ministerial Association President Jason McMullan, who spearheaded a local telehealth program. “When we started down this path…when we tried to figure out how this all would work, all Anthem could say was ‘What can we do for you’ and ‘How can we help you?’”
The end result was a virtual clinic located at the Stonyford Community Church, where local ministers and Anthem representatives gathered Thursday to officially open.
“We’re really excited to be here, and Anthem understands the need in our rural communities to improve access,” Anthem (Medi-Cal) Program Manager Alicia Pimentel said.
McMullan said the opening of the first virtual health clinic was exciting for the community.
“It brings much needed services for walk-in urgent care and behavioral health appointments, using the latest telehealth equipment, reliable internet, and supportive supplies that create a clinic-like approach – including a self-triage area, that will help the community when it comes to urgent medical needs that call for the advice of a healthcare provider.
All the services are provided by California Board Certified M.D.s and D.O.s that provide urgent care.
Walk-in appointments will be available monthly to start in Stonyford during the church’s monthly food distribution.
The clinic waiting room consists of three iPads that allow patients to check in, select a physician from a list of about 30 “on-duty” doctors, and pay the copay (only if required by insurance plan). Medi-Cal patients have no copay. Uninsured pay $59, although the Ministerial Association may have funds available for indigent care.
“If someone were to come and they had no money, we would cover it as a church,” said Stonyford Community Church Pastor Daniel Reagan. “We also have resources available through the Ministerial Association.”
The patient will then go into a private room to have their temperature taken by a scanner, step onto the scale, and self-take blood-pressure before consulting live with the doctor virtually through webcam.
“When you have a mom with three kids driving three hours to get health care or urgent care for a little one that has an ear infection, or even an adult that needs a prescription for allergies, partnering with the Ministerial Association for healthcare can be amazing. We are looking forward to seeing this program grow and are thankful for (the church) to let us use their space.”
At the grand opening, which included a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Colusa County Chamber of Commerce, Pimentel also presented the Ministerial Association with a check for $25,000 for the organization to continue their healthcare efforts in Colusa County.
The money will help fund the community healthcare worker program, a resource team of trained local healthcare workers that will complement the work that the Ministerial Association is doing. Anthem will also donate a total of 21 iPads for the virtual clinics that will be located in churches throughout Colusa County.
McMullan said the next facility will open in Colusa so the Ministerial Association can gauge the level of participation in both a small community, like Stonyford, and a larger city, before opening in Arbuckle, Williams, and Maxwell.