PARADISE, Calif., May 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Paradise Medical Group (PMG), with financial and in-kind support from Blue Shield of California, has returned to Paradise to help restore, enhance and transform health care delivery in the region following California's deadliest blaze last fall. The milestone also includes the availability of "PMG Connect," a new virtual care platform that allows patients to see PMG providers via mobile phone, tablet or personal computer.
Health care services for the town of more than 26,000 residents also was badly damaged by the Camp Fire, forcing many to drive long distances to see a doctor.
"Having Paradise Medical Group re-establish its presence back in Paradise is welcome news and we're grateful that they are committed to serving and helping our community rebuild," said Paradise Medical Group patient Bradford Ogden, 65. "As a patient I'm excited to try some of the new technologies such as PMG Connect, which will be a huge help especially for those of us who live outside Paradise."
More than 100 dignitaries, community leaders and PMG staff gathered on Friday, May 24 at PMG's Paradise clinic on Pentz Road, for a "Homecoming Community Event" to mark the occasion.
"The Camp Fire has exacted a heavy toll on our community in Northern California, but with each passing day, we grow one small step closer to a sense of normalcy," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents Paradise in Congress. "Paradise Medical Group's return will reintroduce experienced doctors into their facilities in Paradise while the introduction of new technology to allow displaced residents to see a physician remotely will be a game changer. It's no secret that a long road to recovery still lies ahead, but I'm grateful to Blue Shield of California and PMG for their commitment to helping Butte County recover."
PMG's return is part of the community's long road to recovery and renewal. The fire left more than 85 dead and over 18,000 buildings destroyed, including PMG's main clinic building. Blue Shield has played a key role in supporting PMG since its physicians and staff were displaced after the wildfire. The work has included a collaboration with Teladoc Health to build PMG Connect, a much-needed service for PMG providers to care for their patients, many of whom have dispersed into neighboring communities, and helping reopen the Paradise clinic.
Blue Shield's assistance was part of the nearly $2 million in support the nonprofit health plan provided to help restore health care delivery and other services in response to the wildfires throughout California last Fall.
"In the wake of the Camp Fire, we were engulfed in how to reconnect phones and medical records, answer phones and renew destroyed medical supplies and medications when we quickly realized that we had the possibility of going bankrupt as we continued to provide care for our community," said Richard Thorp, M.D., President of Paradise Medical Group. "In an answer to prayer, Blue Shield of California with the encouragement of the California Medical Association extended gifts of financial and operational support that pulled PMG back from the brink of collapse."
Thorp added: "Blue Shield has provided and continues to provide unwavering support which has allowed PMG to return to Paradise, provide care to our patients who have evacuated to distant communities via PMG Connect and given us the opportunity to reinvent the future of primary care in Paradise. PMG would not be in a position to face a new future without the financial and operational assistance of Blue Shield."
When the Camp Fire raged across the tinder dry hills of Butte County last fall, doctors and staff at PMG were among the last to leave their town. One pediatrician sent his family to safety while he helped moms and their newborn babies evacuate a nearby hospital while another staff member risked his life to save patient records on disk drives, bundling them frantically and fleeing on his motorcycle just moments before the flames arrived.
"In the aftermath of such tragedy, Paradise Medical Group's courage and commitment to the Paradise and the larger Butte County community are simply inspirational, and Blue Shield of California is honored to support them in a meaningful way," said Jeff Bailet, M.D., Executive Vice President, Blue Shield of California. "At Blue Shield, we are passionate about providing people access to care that is worthy of our family friends, and our collaboration with Paradise Medical Group helps us make that a reality for residents in this region."
After the fire, PMG, which serves about 10,000 area residents, relocated temporarily to rented space in the nearby city of Chico, where the practice's doctors will continue to see their patients. The largest of their three original buildings in Paradise was destroyed in the fire and the remaining two buildings have limited clinic space. In order to help the medical group return to Paradise more quickly, Blue Shield is assisting in renovating the remaining facilities to maximize the clinic capacity.
"The reopening of this clinic is a testament to what is possible when community and health care leaders work together," said David. H. Aizuss, President of the California Medical Association. "Thanks to the dedication and perseverance of the physicians and staff of PMG, and an unprecedented partnership with Blue Shield, we are not only creating a better future for the people of Paradise but reimagining what is possible for rural communities and health care practices across California."
PMG Connect will serve all Paradise Medical Group patients, regardless of their health plan. Patients can now see PMG providers using their mobile phone, tablet or computer no matter where either is located, and receive diagnosis and treatment for an array of conditions.
Doctors will be able to treat medical issues such as upper respiratory infections and other breathing illnesses fire survivors experience, as well as many other everyday care needs. For Blue Shield of California members, the service will be available with no additional cost to the member.
About Paradise Medical Group
Paradise Medical Group is a multi-specialty primary care group formed in 2001. The group formed after California Health Foundation divested physicians in the late 1990s. Group physicians are trained in and practice family medicine, internal medicine and pediatric medicine. Paradise Medical Group's physicians include practitioners who have practiced medicine on "The Ridge" for over 30 years.
Paradise Medical Group physicians have held key medical leadership positions over the last 20 years in various capacities including 3 Chiefs of Staff of Feather River Hospital, a member of Adventist Health's Governing Board, a President of The Butte-Glenn Medical Society and The California Medical Association and have served on advisory boards and as consultants.
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a health care system worthy of our family and friends that is sustainably affordable. We are a not-for-profit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare health care service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.
SOURCE Blue Shield of California