County to transition medical and dental clinic patients to Western Sierra Medical Clinic

Published on July 14, 2016

The Placer County Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of working with county medical clinic staff on a seamless transition of county-operated medical and dental clinics to a private service provider.

On July 12, the county board of supervisors unanimously approved the transition of county-operated medical and dental clinic patients in Auburn and Tahoe to Western Sierra Medical Clinic.

The medical clinics in Auburn and Kings Beach, which offer primary care, immunizations, behavioral, and dental services (Kings Beach only), will continue to operate as usual as county staff further develops a plan to transition patients to Western Sierra, or a provider of their choice later, this year.

The transition plan will be a joint effort with Western Sierra, managed care plans (Anthem Blue Cross and California Health and Wellness), and clinic leadership. Patients will be notified by their managed care plans of their transition to a new provider.

“It is most important that patients continue receiving the high quality of care they deserve,” said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “I will be very focused on this transition as it moves forward."

Western Sierra will provide patients with a wide range of services not available at county-operated clinics such as access to pediatricians, an in-house pain medicine and addiction medicine specialist, maternity health unit, obstetrics and gynecology, certified nurse midwife, in-house pharmacy services, a nutritionist, medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence and expanded immunization clinic hours.

While medical services will transition from the county-operated clinic in Auburn to a new Western Sierra facility also located in Auburn, medical and dental services in Kings Beach will remain in the same location.

“We are committed to smooth transition of care for our patients,” said Dr. Robert Oldham, Placer County Public Health Officer. “One way for that is for many of our doctors and nurses to move with their patients to Western Sierra."

Despite providing excellent medical services, the county is operating medical clinics at a loss. In a presentation to the board, county staff explained that over the last five years the county has averaged an investment of over $4 million of county general funds to offset operating losses. Transition of the medical clinics will bring a cost savings of approximately $3.6 million to county taxpayers per year.

The county has determined it will be able to absorb all administrative and most nursing positions into vacant positions in the department affected by the transition. In addition, Western Sierra seeks to employ all medical staff and relevant support staff who might otherwise be displaced.

“We value our team members and their dedication to providing excellence in public health care that is second to none,” said Maureen Bauman, director of Placer County’s Adult System of Care. “We are committed to helping our staff through this transition period.”