On Oct. 17 and 18, ACHD embarked on a two-day educational tour of rural Healthcare Districts across Northern California. The Advocacy team along with some special guests – including representatives from the California Special Districts Association and Senator Joel Anderson’s office – visited three Districts: Corning Healthcare District in Corning, Mayers Memorial Hospital District in Fall River Mills and Last Frontier Healthcare District in Alturas.
The goal of the tour was to help attendees better understand how valuable rural Districts are within their respective communities. For example, in Corning, the District’s Meuser Memorial Health Center is one of the only resources for medical services within the city limits. With a focus on preventive medicine, the District is helping to mitigate how often residents need to travel to Red Bluff or Chico – a 25-minute or 40-minute drive, respectfully – for emergency care.
As the Advocacy team traveled farther northeast, the importance of rural Districts became increasingly clear. Both Mayers and Last Frontier are considered “frontier” Districts, located within some of Northern California’s most remote areas. They own and operate critical access hospitals that serve geographically large yet sparsely populated areas. Both Districts mentioned that they are situated at least 90 minutes away from the next closest hospital, which – in some instances – may be out of state. However, out-of-state facilities don’t accept Medi-Cal patients, making the District’s facilities even more critical. Further, when you factor in that winter weather often shuts down the area’s roads and grounds helicopters, it’s apparent that these Districts are invaluable.
As part of each visit, the Advocacy team asked about the challenges the Districts currently face. We anticipated differing responses, but trends quickly emerged. Overall, reimbursement is a key issue, as well as physician recruitment and retention. The Districts also expressed that Covered California has introduced a significant amount of uncertainly, especially as it pertains to reimbursement – which brought the conversations full circle.
Next month, the Advocacy team will be traveling to Southern California to visit Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District in Brawley, Desert Healthcare District in Palm Springs and Hi-Desert Memorial Health Care District in Joshua Tree. We’ll be sure to post about those visits and discuss how the tour will shape upcoming legislative activities.
Please contact the Advocacy Team with any questions.