News and Events

Prop 52 Is Vital To EPHC & Our Community

October 2, 2016

California’s November ballot is crowded with 17 initiatives – but one that is of particular interest to EPHC is Proposition 52, the Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability Act.
Proposition 52 ensures the continued availability of matching federal funds that help pay for services provided by our hospital to Medi-Cal patients. Statewide, more than 13 million Californians, including 6.7 million children, 1.6 seniors and 4.5 million low-income working families depend on Medi-Cal for their health care needs.
Proposition 52 protects a partnership first created in 2009 between the state and local hospitals that has resulted in approximately $18 billion in new federal funds that would otherwise be unavailable, at no new cost to state taxpayers. Under the partnership, hospitals provide the state with up-front funds necessary to receive matching federal dollars. The combined federal and hospital money is then re-distributed to hospitals based on their Medi-Cal patient caseload.
The money follows the patient; with funds being used to help cover the cost of providing care to Medi-Cal beneficiaries. There is strict oversight at both the state and federal levels on how these funds are used.
But the law creating this partnership expires in 2017, putting billions of dollars at risk of being left unclaimed in Washington, D.C. if Proposition 52 isn’t passed by voters.
Hospitals like ours comprise more than a quarter of the nearly 1,000 organizations that support Proposition 52. There’s a reason. Medi-Cal has been a successful cornerstone of California’s health care system for more than 50 years, providing a safety net for millions of residents and working families.
We hope you take time to learn more about this important ballot measure by visiting the Proposition 52 campaign website at www.yesprop52.org. You also can follow the campaign on Twitter @Yes52TriedTrue and on Facebook by “liking” the initiative at Facebook.com/YesProp52/.


Your Community Healthcare District

April 29, 2016

Eastern Plumas Healthcare is a healthcare district—but do you know what that means and how it affects what we do and the community that we serve? Healthcare Districts are public entities that provide community-based health care services to residents throughout the state. They respond to the needs in their District by providing a range of services, which may include a hospital, clinic, skilled nursing facility or emergency medical services; as well as education and wellness programs. Each of California’s Healthcare Districts is governed by a locally elected Board of Trustees who are directly accountable to the communities they serve.

Voters created 78 Healthcare Districts to fulfill local health care needs, primarily in underserved communities. Of these, 54 serve the state’s rural areas—many of these are in isolated areas where they are the only local healthcare provider. Healthcare Districts provide access to essential health services and are directly accountable at the community level. As a result, tens of millions of Californians have been able to access care that would otherwise be out of reach.

No one knows the needs of a community more than the people who live there. By creating tailored Healthcare Districts to meet local needs for medical services, community members are working together to effectively address a shared concern, ensuring medical services are available that save lives, keep families healthy, and increase and protect individuals’ quality of life. The core mission of Healthcare Districts is simple: to provide critical health care services to the communities that created them.
Healthcare Districts meet the needs of:
• Communities with severe health care provider shortages
• Uninsured Californians
• Low-income seniors, adults, and children through Medi-Cal
• Underserved populations

Healthcare Districts are governed by and directly accountable to the communities they serve. This close connection to voters ensures openness and transparency. Residents not only vote to create Healthcare Districts, they also elect the public boards that oversee the spending of their local tax dollars in pursuit of improved community health. Healthcare Districts must submit annual financial reports to the California State Controller and obey all state laws governing public records, record keeping, elections, and public access to documents.


Dr. Dhond, Cardiologist: Caring for the Heart and Spirit

April 18, 2016

Milind Dhond M.D., who has been caring for Plumas County residents for nearly twenty years as a cardiologist, has recently expanded his care from the body to the spirit by publishing a book on meditation called “Journey to Zero”.
The book, which Dhond states has no basis in the dogma of religion, but simply truth is designed for those that have no prior experience with mediation. “Whether you are one type of religion or another, at the end of it all there is just one truth,“ says Dhond. “This book is coming from a scientific standpoint. If you follow each step of a technique then you will experience the benefit stated.”
Dhond had been meditating for years, but he said he had never really achieved a state of deep meditation. He found that the books he would read gave things in very abstract terms. “I have a scientific mind and the concepts in books I read were very abstract; “be one with the universe” and I thought what? How is that possible,” said Dhond.
That is until 2003 when he met Swami Radhikananda Saraswati of the Siddha Yoga School in Pune, India who began to share with him over several visits simple, direct techniques adapted from an ancient Sanskrit yoga text entitled Vijnana Bhairava, or divine consciousness. The original transcript, that Dhond helped decipher in 2012, contains 112 techniques for attaining a “state of the divine”. Dr. Dhond’s book, Journey to Zero, published as a result of those experiences, represents what he refers to as a “distillation of the sessions” and his “subsequent experiences and practice of the techniques”.
All of the examples in the book, shared Dhond in an interview, are ancient theories that have been experienced time and time again by those that have used them. “The techniques are clear and easy to use as it is presented in a form of pure crystallized knowledge,” said Dhond in observation of the outcomes of meditation sessions he leads on a regular basis in the Davis, Ca. area where he lives with his family.
Dhond gave an example of a group of nurses in the Bay Area that asked him to teach them about mediation. He used one of the techniques from the book and without any prior knowledge of what to expect, in discussion following the session, the sensation felt by the participants were the same. “Everyone was different yet the experiences they had with these techniques was the same,” said Dhond .
That path of meditation techniques, designed by these yogis for reaching a state of enlightenment according to Dhond, involves stages of progression from initially improving and focusing ones mind and increasing ones ability to concentrate for long periods. It has benefits for the yogi (a person proficient in yoga) in that his/her mind has less negative fluctuations- such as anger, jealousy etc. “ For me personally this has alleviated stress that I would feel on very busy days at work and allowed for a calmer demeanor,” said Dhond of one of the benefits he has experienced as a result of the practice.
Dhond continued that the yogis mind becomes more still with continued practice and effort and then one spends more time in the “silence” of the meditation. He stated that this state is a state of connectivity with the world around you and as one goes deeper into the silence, one is merged with the underlying foundational consciousness at the core of each individual that connects everything. Once to that deepest state one is filled with a deep intense bliss and acquires a deeper understanding of truth. “This bliss is your true nature,” said Dhond. “Journey to Zero”, available at local retailers in Plumas County and on Amazon, features illustrations and art by longtime Graeagle friend Michael Clawson and edited by Portola High School Graduate, Kira Bohm.
Dhond will offer a meditation session and book signing at the Mohawk Community Resource Center on Friday, Apr. 22 from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. This session will be an opportunity to meet and learn directly from Dhond how to perform the techniques in his book.
Dr. Dhond continues to make his monthly clinics at both the Eastern Plumas Health Care Clinic and Plumas District Hospital to care for patients as he has since 2000. “Dr. Dhond is a top notch cardiologist,” said Eastern Plumas Health Care CEO, Tom Hayes. “He has provided excellent service to EPHC’s patients for many years, and he also has a very caring manner. I think it’s great that he is sharing his knowledge of meditation techniques with us through his new book.”
For more information on the book and Dr. Dhond’s journey visit the website at www.journeytozerobook.com
Article courtesy of Feather Publishing
Susan Jacobson, Staff Writer
sjacobson@plumasnews.com


EPHC Wins Final Round of 4 Year SNF Battle!

March 21, 2016

Eastern Plumas Health Care recently received news that Governor Brown signed a bill on managed care that includes an elimination the skilled nursing clawback – that is, that retroactive recoupment of money the state had arbitrarily decided to take back from hospital skilled nursing facilities going back to 2011.
Four years ago, EPHC successfully fought the state on a similarly arbitrary reduction in SNF fees, amounting to a loss of over $1 million per year. The hospital was able to receive a state exemption from the cuts based on its “frontier status” and the fact that it was the only health care facility and hospital skilled nursing provider in the area.
At that time, however, the state refused to remove the “clawback.” This meant that EPHC would be required to pay the state $2.5 million over the next ten years. While survivable, the clawback would cause EPHC a substantial financial burden for years to come.
Assemblyman Brian Dahle spearheaded the effort that eliminated the clawback, and EPHC was an active participant in the successful lobbying effort. According to EPHC’s CEO, Tom Hayes, “As a safety net hospital in a severely economically depressed rural area, it is our mission to be here when our community members need us. Yet, we are constantly struggling to remain afloat, and the amount of the clawback became a survival issue for this hospital. If we were forced to pay the required amount each month, it would mean we wouldn’t be able to pay for essential infrastructure repairs and upgrades, among other things.”
The elimination of the clawback capped the four year battle by the hospital that saved the hospital millions of dollars and, ultimately, saved it from being forced to close its skilled nursing facilities—a lifeline for the elderly citizens of Plumas and Sierra counties.


Our Beloved Therapy Dog, Cider, RIP

Cider, Eastern Plumas Health Care’s beloved therapy dog for their Loyalton skilled nursing facility passed away on March 2, 2016. The Loyalton community and beyond had just raised the funds for her to have a necessary surgery on her knee. She had complications, including major seizures. In the end, her friends at the Loyalton SNF had to make the painful decision to have her euthanized rather than watch her suffer further.
She came to live with the staff and residents at EPHC-Loyalton Campus on on December 3, 2005 at the age of 5 months old. She was a High Sierra Animal rescue pet. She had to go through some extensive training to be able to live at the skilled nursing facility. Denise Langston, kennel manager at High Sierra trained her at the SNF, and then she trained Debbie Gilmer, Activities Director, to work with her there. “Cider was one in a million rescue dog that was a perfect match for the skilled nursing facility,” said Denise. “She touched so many hearts on a daily basis.” Debbie and Cider were friends and companions for over ten years. It was Debbie who arranged for Cider’s surgery and who took such good care of her for all these years.
Cider’s birthday was going to be on April 24; she would have been 11 years old. According to Debbie, “Cider became a very important part of our family. She knew her job and performed it very efficiently. If a resident was enjoying the outside, she felt it was her responsibility to stay with them until they came back indoors. She had the biggest family that loved her. When the delivery men would come in they all knew her by name and visited with her. Everyone that would come to visit a family member was a friend to her. We would like to thank Dr. Martin Shaffer of Plumas Veterinary Service for taking care of her for so many years. We would also like to thank Dr. Dean Morgan at Advanced Pet Care for helping out with her surgery. She received the best care from both of these men. She will be missed greatly by all.”




March 2, 2016

Katie Tanner, Eastern Plumas Health Care Auxiliary’s outgoing President, presented Chief Financial Officer, Jeri Nelson, with a $10,925 check at the Auxiliary’s quarterly meeting to pay for a new cystoscope. The scope will allow urologist Dr. John Scott to expand the types of procedures he can perform for EPHC patients. The Auxiliary also provided the hospital with $80,000 toward the purchase of a new nurse call system, which was just completed in the Portola hospital and skilled nursing facility. The total amount of donations from the Auxiliary for hospital equipment during this fiscal year is $169,265. The group has been a mainstay for helping EPHC get much needed equipment over the years.


EPHC Wins Final Round of SNF Battle–$2.5 million saved!

INCREDIBLE NEWS: EPHC’S SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES ARE FINALLY FREE OF THE “CLAWBACK.” WE NO LONGER HAVE TO PAY BACK THE $2.5 MILLION “TAKE BACK” THE STATE HAD PLANNED. THIS ENDS A SUCCESSFUL 3-4 YEAR BATTLE! TIME TO CELEBRATE!! THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED US ALONG THE WAY!!
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that he has signed bipartisan managed care organization (MCO) financing legislation passed by both houses of the Legislature yesterday. The bill package includes elimination of the “clawback”, or retroactive recoupment of reimbursement for services provided by hospital based skilled nursing facilities.


Award Winning Telemed Program Does It Again!

January 8, 2016

Eastern Plumas Health Care is once more being recognized for its robust telemedicine program. The close of 2015 saw EPHC grab the top spot in the 2015 Excellence in Telehealth Awards as the Number 1 Telemedicine Performer for the state of California.
Eric Brown, President and CEO of the California Telehealth Network, had this to say: “I’d like to congratulate the Eastern Plumas Health Care organization on their amazing progress in building their telemedicine program. I can remember first visiting Portola in the summer of 2010 when they didn’t have adequate broadband, no telemedicine equipment or training. To see the level of monthly telemedicine activity and the medical services that are now available to the community that were not available before is really a testament to the hard work of the EPHC team.”
Telemedicine allows EPHC and other rural, isolated health care organizations to provide quality specialty care that otherwise would mean a long drive and, potentially, a long wait for care.
The California Telehealth Network connects over 800 California healthcare providers in underserved areas to a state and nation wide secure broadband network dedicated to healthcare. EPHC’s telemedicine program offers specialty care in diabetes education, endocrinology, pain management, psychiatry, psychology, and rheumatology.
According to the program’s Coordinator, Erica Waldeck, the telemedicine program sees approximately 200 patients every month in the Portola Clinic. She said she “love[s] working with the patients and using technology to support our community.”


EPHC Gets New Urologist

Dr. John Scott is good news to Eastern Plumas Health Care and Plumas County’s urology patients. Scott is a board certified urologist who spent most of his career working in Reno at Urology Surgeons, which is now Nevada Urology. Christine Lajuenesse of Nevada Urology said she loved working with Dr. Scott and that he was very personable. And, his new patients at the Portola and Graeagle are already praising his knowledge and kind bedside manner. All of this means that Plumas County patients can stop waiting months to see a urologist and can avoid the long drive to Reno or Chico for care, as well.
Dr. Scott grew up in Reno, did his undergraduate work at UNR, and when it came time to practice medicine and raise a family, he returned home in 1978. He retired in 2007 after 29 years at Urology Surgeons. After a brief stint back at work in Phoenix, AZ, he returned to the Reno area to be near children and grandchildren. Dr. Scott and his wife had a cabin here for five years, but they decided to sell it, buy a house, and live here year round.
When asked why he decided to work for EPHC, he answered, “I don’t want to get bored.” In fact, he called the hospital to see if they might need a urologist. There is a great need for quality urologists in Plumas County, and the fact that Dr. Scott will work two days a week (Tuesdays in Graeagle, and Thursdays in Portola) means that patients won’t have to wait for a long time to see him. Also, working is helping him to “feel like I’m part of the community, not just a visitor,” he said.
He’ll be doing outpatient and clinic urology. He can be the front line, he said, for issues such as blood in the urine. “They [patients] can be seen here first, and I can do the initial evaluation and then refer them out to the appropriate specialist,” said Scott.
Scott has come full circle—when he was growing up, he attended the Mohawk Boy’s Camp, which was where Plumas Pines is now. He “loves the small town,” he said, and he enjoys playing golf. “I don’t even want to go to Reno. The air is so clear up here.” Further, he’s meeting lots of people already since he’s become a year round resident. The move, it seems, will be a lucky one both for Dr. Scott and for Plumas County’s patients.


EPHC’s Skilled Nursing Seeks New Residents

December 5, 2015

Hospitals, like communities and human beings, are organic. To survive, they change; if they don’t, they die. A few years back, Eastern Plumas Health Care’s skilled nursing facilities were threatened with closure when the state of California decided it wanted to pay less for services—not just now, but in the past, as well. This meant that EPHC would have to pay millions of dollars to the state. The hospital scaled back its skilled nursing operations, fought hard, and won. Not a single resident was displaced.
Now, with that fight in the past, the hospital is busily scaling up its skilled nursing census. In fact, when Country Villa, Quincy’s nursing home, was forced to close recently, EPHC took several of its patients. Now that EPHC is ramping up operations again, it has invited several more of those patients to return.
Over the years, this hospital, which was originally an arm of the railroad, has changed to meet the needs of its community. Specialty clinic services now include dermatology, urology, and gastroenterology, among others that cater to the needs of an aging population.
Further, EPHC offers a unique opportunity for its elderly residents, many of whom have lived here for most of their lives and some for generations, to live their final phase in a small, family oriented skilled nursing facility in their home community.
EPHC’s skilled nursing facilities are thriving because they offer something our community needs—a sense of communal self-reliance to the very end of life. Together, this hospital and community will continue to help each other through cycles of change and survival as we have for generations. We show no signs of being finished here any time soon.
For information on EPHC’s skilled nursing facilities, or to schedule a visit, contact Lorraine Noble, Director of Nursing: 530.832.6546.


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