Doctors and staff at California’s Paradise Medical Group were among the last to leave their town when California’s deadliest wildfire spread across Butte County last fall, and now Blue Shield of California and telemedicine company Teladoc Health are partnering to help restore care delivery in the area.
The fire left more than 85 dead and over 18,000 buildings destroyed, including Paradise Medical Group’s clinic, a multi-specialty primary care group created in 2001.
Now, Blue Shield of California is playing a role to restore and enhance healthcare services for the town and immediate region, by donating nearly $2 million to help reestablish health care delivery and other services in response to the fires, helping doctors connect with their patients, and even helping to rebuild the clinic in Paradise.
As part of its efforts, Blue Shield is collaborating with Teladoc Health, as together they plan to build a new care-delivery service that allows residents to consult Paradise Medical Group physicians via smartphone, personal computer or telephone. The “e-visit” service will provide the physicians much-needed tools to care for their patients, many of whom have dispersed into neighboring communities, according to officials.
Paradise Medical Group, which serves about 10,000 area residents, has relocated temporarily to rented space in nearby city of Chico, where the practice’s doctors now see their patients. The largest of their three original buildings in Paradise was destroyed in the fire and the remaining two buildings have limited clinic space. In order to help the medical group return to Paradise more quickly, Blue Shield will assist in renovating the remaining facilities to maximize the clinic capacity. Rebuilding the larger building will take longer, but plans are underway, officials noted.
The virtual care delivery platform from Teladoc Health will serve all Paradise Medical Group patients, regardless of their health plan. Via phone or mobile app, patients can directly connect with their physicians, no matter where either is located, and receive diagnosis and treatment for an array of conditions, according to officials.
Doctors will be able to treat medical issues such as upper respiratory infections and other breathing illnesses fire survivors experience, as well as many other everyday care needs. For Blue Shield of California members, the service will be available with no additional cost to the member, officials said.