By Kristy Bird MaKieve, Executive Director
Butte-Glenn Medical Society
Friday, May 24, 2019 was a sunny day in the town of Paradise. The weather was befitting the return of Paradise Medical Group to town, 6 months after the devastating Camp Fire partially burned their clinic, destroying their family homes and scattering most Paradise residents far and wide. Pictured above is Dr. Richard Thorp in the center, cutting the blue ribbon that represents much more than the reopening of their clinic. The lunch-time reception was a symbol of hope for this community being restored.
Dr. Thorp is a leader in our community and of the Butte-Glenn Medical Society. He was President of the Society in 1994. Later, he became President of the Society’s affiliated, statewide organization, the California Medical Association, in 2013. Dr. Thorp continues to be a leader of the Society as a member of the Board of Directors and submitting letters about opioid prescribing on the Society’s new website. Not only is Dr. Thorp the CEO of Paradise Medical Group, he has also been the Chief Medical Officer of Feather River Hospital of Adventist Health until the hospital closed after November’s fire.
Friday’s celebration was of gratitude for the generous support given to Paradise Medical Group by Blue Shield, the California Medical Association and Teledocs. These gifts enabled the Group’s physicians to quickly set up a new clinic in Chico and to re-open their Paradise clinic with the latest technology for patient care. Paradise Medical Group can now provide Telehealth care for all patients.
Helping Rebuild Paradise Medical Group
Butte-Glenn Medical Society is pleased to send many referrals to Paradise Medical Group over the years. All PMG physicians are active members of the Society and have been for decades. After the fire, access to care became worse in the Chico area and many people continue calling the Society asking for a primary care physician who will take new patients. Many of these patients said it would take months to be seen at other clinics. The Society told hundreds of callers that Paradise Medical Group moved to Chico and are accepting new patients – without such a long wait. Dr. Thorp hired another provider to help accept new patients, especially those with Medicare, which was critical for accommodating those most in need.
The Society may be receiving funds to address the access to care issue. These funds will enable the Society to respond more quickly to requests for referrals and will help canvas all physicians in the area regardless of membership. The Society’s goal is to create an up-to-date directory in print by August 3 and 4 when the California CareForce clinic at Silver Dollar Fairgrounds reaches out to all fire survivors in the Chico area. This directory would proudly feature Paradise Medical Group in its two locations – Chico and Paradise.
Friday’s event was also a chance for other Paradise Medical Group physicians to share their gratitude. The Butte-Glenn Medical Society helped facilitate gifts from the Sonoma County Medical Association. Having been through the fire in Santa Rosa in 2017 Wendy Young, SCMA’s Executive Director, was inspired to reach out to Kristy Bird MaKieve, BGMS’ Executive Director. Kristy introduced Wendy to Paradise Medical Group’s staff. Wendy mailed gift cards to their families.
So what do scooters have to do with restoring Paradise? Kristy attended the event in Paradise on Friday and met several physicians. Dr. David Russell enthusiastically shared that his kids bought scooters with the gift cards from Sonoma County and they use them all the time. Still living in an apartment after being displaced by the fire, Dr. Russell mentioned that the scooters fit perfectly while providing joy for his kids. Hearing how happy Dr. Russell's family was to have scooters, Wendy wants to send more gift cards.
In addition to Sonoma County Medical Association’s gifts, other medical societies sent unrestricted donations to Butte-Glenn Medical Society in the months after the fire. These funds have enabled the Society to restore its operations and make some much-needed improvements. The Butte-Glenn Medical Society has been able to launch a Physician Wellness program, establish new branding and a new website, develop more communications and programs that address the opioid epidemic, and to add a small desk to our Chico office to accommodate CSU Chico interns for public health and health administration throughout the rest of the year. Funds were donated by the Sierra Community Health Foundation/Placer Nevada County Medical Society; from Los Angeles County Medical Association, Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society; and Fresno-Madera Medical Association.
The Butte-Glenn Medical Society looks forward to restoring our community and helping rebuild the healthcare infrastructure in the area. From what we saw on Friday, the community will not only be restored, it will be built to be better than it was before. We are all grateful for the support, from gift cards helping kids buy scooters, to one of the Society’s star group members restoring their clinic as a critical step to restoring the town of Paradise.
Kristy Bird MaKieve, Executive Director
Butte-Glenn Medical Society