Touro, Solano tout partnership

By Danny Bernardini, The Daily Republic
10/23/2012

VALLEJO — Solano County and Touro University are in the midst of a team effort that many in the field are calling a first of its kind, one that brings physicians and medical students into health care clinics.

The partnership went into action in April, but Touro hosted tours and a ceremony Monday in Vallejo to highlight the benefits of a plan that several speakers said would cut wait times at clinics while helping fill the void of doctors needed to see patients there.

“It’s huge for us. It’s an exciting opportunity to merge with the county,” said Marilyn Hopkins, provost and chief operating officer for Touro. “It’s an innovative partnership. I don’t know of any others like this.”

Physicians and graduate students are now able to see patients at clinics in Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo. A total of eight full-time positions were filled, but the bigger benefit is that students that can now work with patients on specialized needs, said Bela Matyas, Solano County health officer.

Matyas said that will also help other medical providers, as the clinics would usually send clients it couldn’t fully help to other providers. He said there will hopefully be a relief for emergency rooms, which are legally forced to see uninsured patients. Instead of some people going there for an ailment, there is more of a chance to be seen and diagnosed at a clinic.

Several city and county leaders joined health care professionals for a tour Monday of the building at Tuolumne Street location. The ceremony was kicked off by Patrick Duterte, director of Health and Social Services.

“We may not get all the money San Francisco gets and we may not get all the money Sacramento gets,” Duterte told the group. “But we are always ready to partner.”

He said the county would save a good amount of money with the move and that those who will see patients are more than qualified. He likened them to a nurse practitioner at most medical facilities. He said Touro stepped in at the perfect time, given the shortage of doctors.

“For those that need specialty care, you need a specialist,” he said. “We’re not trying to get rid of doctors. If you know of any, send them our way.”

Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or dbernardini@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.