Western Sierra Medical Center: a nonprofit dedicated to community health | TheUnion.com

Western Sierra Medical Center: a nonprofit dedicated to community health

Other Voices
Scott McFarland

The delivery of health care is about making sure patients have access to much-needed services and treatment, whether it's a routine annual exam or a life-threatening disease. In short, health care is about connecting with the community and meeting its needs.

As a nonprofit health center, our charge is to serve everyone — people with insurance, people covered by Medicare and low-income and uninsured residents.

Quite simply, we are a community-wide health center — dedicated to all residents.

It's a commitment we take seriously, always looking to improve in order to provide top-notch health care to patients, from fixed-income seniors to women who will soon be fixing bottles for newborns.

We know the region and the communities we serve, and how each is different with distinct health-care needs.

Western Sierra Medical's board of directors, medical team, executives and employees often ask two major questions: how can we improve health care and what does the community need? The answers are the foundation for our decisions — and success.

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So, the nonprofit center is adding services and staff to meet the burgeoning demand of patients, especially with more people insured under the Affordable Care Act, and investing millions of dollars in the latest medical equipment and a soon-to-open new building in Grass Valley. We've also embraced telemedicine, allowing patients to connect with specialists, when necessary.

These efforts will keep us on track to meet our high health care standards, giving patients more of what they need – and introducing them to services they may want down the road. Western Sierra Medical's new services bring state-of-the-art health care to the region, where anyone — regardless of health care coverage or income level – can access quality treatment.

Of course, Western Sierra Medical continues to offer and expand many of its existing health services, including medical, dental, maternity, behavioral health and case management. The center also now has several specialists, from orthopedics to podiatrists, with the goal of providing convenient, one-stop health services whenever possible.

As a nonprofit that is the second-largest health care provider in the region, we are focused on patients, not profits. Our doctors and medical staff can spend more time with patients and learn about their needs. We strive to provide health care like a few generations ago, before big business took control of the industry and obsessed about cutting costs and greatly increasing the number of patient visits.

In fact, community centers that receive some funds from the government, such as Western Sierra Medical Center, are known for providing quality care, according to a recent Stanford University School of Medicine study.

You know the drill, you have a nagging cold or flu – which one, who knows – and the doctor spends a couple minutes and makes a quick diagnosis without delving a little deeper, when spending a few more moments could lead him to the real problem. Well, Western Sierra Medical is about the quality of health care, not only the number of patients treated.

Western Sierra Medical offers a personal experience complete with the latest medical technology. But arguably the biggest advantage for the center is often overlooked – our commitment to and knowledge of the region.

The center's board members are community leaders, with many doubling as patients of Western Sierra Medical. Many of our employees, from doctors and medical staff to the support team, live in the region.

We know the region and the communities we serve, and how each is different with distinct health-care needs.

For example, Nevada County has one of the lowest immunization rates in the state, a major problem for children entering school or to seniors living in an assisted-care residence. One patient battling a health issue can have a far-reaching effect on many others in the region.

As a community center, we're always crunching data, examining health trends and sharing information that could affect the region and its residents. Many aspects are critical to providing quality health care, including the latest technology and highly skilled professionals dedicated to the profession and their patients.

It's our commitment to make health care accessible, effective and first rate for our family, friends, neighbors … and our region.

Scott McFarland is chief executive officer of the Western Sierra Medical Center, serving 20,000 patients in Nevada, Yuba and Sierra counties.

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