A proposed Fresno medical residency program got a financial boost Wednesday with a $2.2 million commitment from the locally governed Medi-Cal managed care plan for Fresno, Kings and Madera counties.
The program is scheduled to begin July 1 to replace the Sierra Vista Family Medicine Residency Program, which opened four years ago and will end June 1.
“We’re able to have significant funds where we can make some commitments back to the community,” said Gregory Hund, the CEO at CalViva Health. “A residency program will increase access to doctors for the most underserved areas of our network,” he said.
The goal of the residency program is to increase the number of physicians in the Valley, which has a shortage of family doctors and specialists. Medical residents tend to stay and practice medicine where they are trained.
They have some roots in the area or some reason to stay after their residency.
Gregory Hund, CEO CalViva Health
The medical residents matched for the new Teaching Health Center program will be partly chosen for the likelihood of their remaining in the Valley. “They have some roots in the area or some reason to stay after their residency,” Hund said.
The Sierra Vista program, sponsored by Fresno Healthy Communities Access Partners, a Fresno nonprofit, had similar screening criteria for its residents and had the same goal of reducing the doctor shortage in the Valley. It had operated at Clinica Sierra Vista, a federally qualified health center in Fresno, until last year. The program, which relied heavily on federal funding, lost its accreditation when it could not find enough doctors to teach residents. Teaching Health Center programs primarily train medical residents in community health centers rather than in hospitals.
Valley Health Team agreed to take over the Sierra Vista program for its final year to allow residents to complete their training. At the same time, Valley Health Team embarked on its own plan to create a new Teaching Health Center program.
Soyla Reyna-Griffin said Valley Health Team received word from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education on Wednesday that it had given an initial go-ahead for the new Teaching Health Center program, which allows Valley Health Team to request that federal money that had been assigned to the Sierra Vista program be transferred to the new program. If Valley Health Team does not receive the federal money, the program will need about $2.2 million in addition to the matching funds from CalViva, Reyna-Griffin said.
She also is seeking state Song Brown health-care workforce funds that are administered through the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. And, Reyna-Griffin said “we’re asking other funders to step up to the plate as well. We are in the process of working with other sponsors.”
The program would not be possible without CalViva’s support, and we are very grateful.
Soyla Reyna-Griffin, CEO Valley Health Team
But the CalViva sponsorship is significant, Reyna-Griffin said. “The program would not be possible without CalViva’s support, and we are very grateful.”
Faculty to teach the residents is in place, she said. “We still have our program director and also the two faculty who are teaching this year have agreed to teach the next program year. And we have letters of agreement in place with UCSF (University of California at San Francisco) and the two hospitals we will be working with, Community Regional Medical Center and Valley Children’s Hospital. They will also be teaching the residents along with our faculty.”
The new program will begin with eight residents.
Reyna-Griffin said there should be no problem filling the residency slots. “We’ve already received quite a bit of interest from medical students who are looking for a place for their graduate medical education, and we turned them away because we were not accredited.”
Valley Health Team has health centers in San Joaquin, Kerman, Kingsburg, Clovis and Firebaugh. The new residency program will be housed at a center that is under construction at the southeast corner of Ashlan and Cornelia avenues west of Highway 99. It should be completed by the end of May.