NURSE PRACTITIONER, MATTHEW Brooks, right, brings patient, Ariella Lopez, 2, to Dr. Judith Brandt at Western Sierra Medicine in Camino Heights. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

Healthy Trends 2013

Clinic serves Medi-Cal patients

By From page HT14 | January 30, 2013

There’s a large wooden sign on the front of a brown building five miles east of Placerville off Highway 50, summarizing perfectly the philosophy of the hardworking medical professionals inside: “Committed to providing quality, personalized medical care for those in need and willing to help themselves.”
The help offered at Western Sierra Medical Center on Camino Heights Drive is for those traditionally underserved in El Dorado County, and the patient list includes those on Medi-Cal and CMSP/Path2Health.
Practice Administrator Alex Giloff, 53; Medical Director Dr. Judith Brandt, 58; and nurse practitioner Matthew Brooks, 35, share a passion for helping those who are ready to take care of their own health in a quiet setting in which listening thoroughly to each patient so that a specific and effective health plan can be established is paramount.
Nurse Practitioner Brooks, who joined the 8-year-old medical center last fall, epitomizes that passion as he talks of his reasons for becoming part of the team at the rural health clinic.
“I worked at a free clinic in the Bay Area and I enjoyed it immensely. I like working in community medicine,” said Brooks. “I checked several other places, and previously was with Sutter, but after a search I decided to go with my passion and focus my career on underserved populations. I found Western Sierra and think I have made a difference in my patients’ lives already.”
Brooks said the practice focuses on preventive medicine, with emphasis on encouraging a healthy lifestyle. In fact, he said, some patients may think they are getting too much of a good thing.
“Our patients hate us for harping on the dangers of smoking,” he said, smiling widely. “But I’m happy to say that a lot of them have quit smoking since I’ve been here, so it’s worth it.”
Smokers will get a lungful of advice from the pros at Western Sierra Medical Center, with Brooks and the others lecturing about inflamed lungs, constricted arteries and blood vessels, including those that feed the brain. Do you have chronically cold hands? Smoking may well be the culprit, Brooks explained.
“Not to mention smoking increases the blood pressure and cholesterol levels,” he added. “If you have arthritis or other joint pain, removing cigarettes from the equation is a very good thing.”
Brooks, Brandt and Giloff all work to make the 30 to 40 patients they see each day understand the vital importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Western Sierra Medical Center is state and federally licensed as a certified rural health clinic. Administrator Giloff is justifiably proud to mention, too, that the center was the first in El Dorado County to obtain stimulus federal grant funding for “meaningful electronic medical record usage,” a sophisticated system that ensures patient confidentiality and streamlined record-keeping.
“It’s backed up (by computer) seven different ways,” said Giloff as he exhibited the hardware involved.
Services offered by Western Sierra include preventive care regarding diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma/COPD and allergies. Children and adults may undergo care there, with immunizations part of the protocol. Sports physicals may be obtained, and urgent care is offered for established patients.
Medi-Cal patients make up nearly half of the clinic’s caseload, with Medicare and CMSP cases as frequent as commercial clients. Visits are by appointment only.
Western Sierra Medical Center is at 3070 Camino Heights Drive, Suite B, in Camino. Call 530-647-9762.

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Pat Lakey

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