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March 31, 2021 0

Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) se complace en dar la bienvenida a la Dra. Patti Chico, un médico de medicina familiar cuyo enfoque de la medicina “parece encajar perfectamente en nuestra comunidad costera,” según la directora ejecutiva de MCC, Lucresha Renteria.

La Dra. Chico se ve a sí misma como una curandera, lo que significa que es una entrenadora de salud y defensora del paciente tanto como una doctora, enfocada en las necesidades físicas y emocionales de los pacientes. Ella comprende que muchas personas se sienten desamparadas por el sistema de salud que consideran inflexible, impersonal y difícil de navegar. Estos desafíos a menudo se ven agravados por la raza, la clase, el género y la orientación sexual. Y cuando la atención no es culturalmente competente, aumenta el riesgo de malos resultados e incluso la muerte.

“Cuando las personas se sienten sin poder, es razonable que se desconecten. Quiero proporcionar una entrada de regreso al sistema de salud. Quiero ser su navegante y su animadora. Mi trabajo es brindarles información que puedan usar para tomar las mejores decisiones por sí mismos,” comentó la Dra. Eso a menudo significa proporcionar información a los pacientes y darles tiempo para considerar las cosas. En una industria donde la gente a menudo se siente presionada a tomar decisiones rápidas, la Dra. Chico ralentiza las cosas y les da a sus pacientes el espacio para pensar detenidamente. Con un enfoque colaborativo y respetuoso, su objetivo es ayudar a los pacientes a crear metas de salud que crean que pueden lograr.

“Estoy aquí para brindarles el apoyo que necesitan para sanar y cuidar la preciosa maquinaria que habitan: sus cuerpos. Mi objetivo es ayudarlos a idear un plan que sea factible para ellos. Es posible que necesitemos perfeccionar ese plan con el tiempo, y eso está bien. No estoy aquí para regañar o juzgar, sino para ayudarlos a tener éxito,” explicó. Ella espera poder colaborar con todos los pacientes y ofrecer a la comunidad de habla hispana un proveedor que se parezca a ellos y que hable su idioma. Después de todo, la investigación muestra que cuando un proveedor y un paciente comparten antecedentes comunes, los pacientes obtienen mejores resultados.

La Dra. Chico dice que siente afinidad por la gente de las comunidades rurales en general. “En las comunidades rurales donde he practicado, la gente tiende a ser resistente y trabajadora. Ellos hacen lo que pueden para cuidar de sí mismos y cuando necesitan ayuda, vienen a verme,” dijo. A ella le gusta la naturaleza independiente de la población rural y respeta su derecho a buscar atención cuando esté lista, aunque admite que cuanto antes es mejor, ya que ha visto muchos problemas en un estado severo que podrían haberse prevenido o al menos mitigado.

“Siempre les digo a mis pacientes que si vienen y resulta que no es nada, fue una buena decisión entrar. No deberían cargar con la carga de tratar de averiguar qué está pasando con sus cuerpos sobre ellos mismos. Podemos resolverlo juntos o al menos descartar cualquier cosa que necesite atención inmediata,” ella dijo.

La Dra. Chico ha trabajado exclusivamente en centros de salud con calificación federal (FQHC) como MCC durante los últimos ocho años. Antes de eso, eligió a propósito un programa de residencia con una clínica de continuidad FQHC porque sabía que quería trabajar hábilmente con una población de pacientes con problemas médicos y complejos sociales. En los cinco años transcurridos desde que se graduó de la escuela de medicina, ha trabajado en una variedad de entornos, tanto urbanos como rurales, y ha perfeccionado sus habilidades no solo en la gestión de un panel de pacientes ocupado, sino también en la construcción de una relación significativa con los pacientes. “Valoro el arte de curar, que va mucho más allá de la salud física,” ella dijo.

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MCC es un centro de salud calificado federalmente sin fines de lucro que brinda atención médica, dental y de salud conductual a los residentes de Westport a Elk y al interior de Comptche en el condado de Mendocino. www.mendocinocoastclinics.org

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March 31, 2021 0

Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is pleased to welcome Dr. Patti Chico, a family medicine physician whose approach to medicine “appears to be a perfect fit for our coastal community,” according to MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.

Dr. Chico sees herself as a healer, which means she is a health coach and patient advocate as much as a doctor, focused on patients’ physical and emotional needs. She understands that many people feel disempowered by the healthcare system they have found to be inflexible, impersonal, and hard to navigate. These challenges are often exacerbated by race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. And when care is not culturally competent, the risk for bad outcomes and even death are increased.

“When people feel disempowered, it is reasonable for them to disengage. I want to provide an entryway back into the healthcare system. I want to be their navigator and their cheerleader. My job is to provide them with information they can use to make the best decisions for themselves,” she said. That often means providing patients with information and giving them time to consider things. In an industry where people often feel pressured to make quick decisions, Dr. Chico slows things down and gives her patients the space to think things through. Using a respectful, collaborative approach, her goal is to help patients create health goals they believe they can accomplish.

“I am here to provide them with the support they need to heal and care for the precious machinery they inhabit: their bodies. My goal is to help them come up with a plan that is achievable for them. We may need to hone that plan over time, and that is ok. I am not here to scold or judge but rather to help them find success,” she explained. She looks forward to partnering with all patients and offering the Spanish-speaking community a provider who both looks like them and speaks their language. After all, research shows that when a provider and patient share a common background, patients have better outcomes.

Dr. Chico says she feels an affinity for people in rural communities in general. “In the rural communities where I’ve practiced, people tend to be resilient and hard-working. They do what they can to take care of themselves and when they need help, they come and see me,” she said. She likes the independent nature of rural people and respects their right to seek care when they are ready, though she admits that sooner is usually better as she has seen many issues in a severe state that could have been prevented or at least mitigated.

“I always tell my patients that if they come in and it turns out to be nothing, it was still a good decision to come in. They should not place the burden of trying to figure out what’s going on with their bodies on themselves. We can figure it out together or at the very least rule out anything that needs immediate attention,” she said.

Dr. Chico has worked exclusively at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) like MCC for the past eight years. Before that, she purposefully chose a residency program with an FQHC continuity clinic because she knew she wanted to work skillfully with a patient population with complex medical and social issues. In the five years since she graduated from medical school, she has worked in a variety of settings, both urban and rural, and has honed her skills not only in managing a busy patient panel, but also in building meaningful relationships with patients. “I value the art of healing, which goes well beyond physical health,” she said.

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MCC is a non-profit, federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents from Westport to Elk and inland to Comptche in Mendocino County. www.mendocinocoastclinics.org

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March 25, 2021 0

Earlier this year, the Biden Administration announced a new partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. A recent White House briefing reported that “given the critical role that these providers play in their communities, President Biden will launch a new program to ensure that FQHCs can directly access vaccine supply where needed. At the same time, the administration will encourage jurisdictions to engage and work closely with health centers in their community vaccination planning.”

In Mendocino County, FQHCs include community health centers such as Anderson Valley Health Center in Boonville, Long Valley Health Center in Laytonville, MCHC Health Centers in Ukiah and Willits, Mendocino Coast Clinics in Fort Bragg, and Redwood Coast Medical Services in Gualala. Nationally, FQHCs serve more than 30 million patients each year — one in 11 people nationwide. Locally, FQHCs and affiliated community health centers, such as Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic in Willits, serve about two-thirds of people in Mendocino County, providing everything from medical care to behavioral health services, dental care, and some specialty services.

During the pandemic, FQHCs have been a crucial resource in delivering COVID testing and vaccines because these community health centers have trusting relationships with patients throughout the county, including in the most remote parts of our county.

In partnership with Mendocino County Public Health and Adventist Health, local community health clinics have administered more than 20,000 vaccines to Mendocino County residents.

Mendocino Coast Clinics Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said, “As soon as we receive notice that vaccine doses are coming our way, we jump into action and schedule vaccination clinics in line with the county’s vaccine distribution plan. We often have very short notice, but that doesn’t stop us from doing everything we can to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

The county’s vaccine distribution plan can be found online at mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations. The county is currently vaccinating people in the first two phases of the plan, which includes healthcare workers, people 65 and older, and people in essential job sectors such as education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture. In addition, people of any age with proof of the following medical conditions—those that increase vulnerability to COVID-19—are eligible for vaccination.

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease (stage 4)
  • Oxygen-dependent COPD
  • Diabetes (hemoglobin A1c > 7.5 percent)
  • Heart disease (heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy)
  • Immunocompromised state due to disease or medications
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe obesity (BMI > 40kg/m2)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Physical or mental disabilities that increase risk of severe COVID or would cause problems caring for them if they contracted the virus.

The county’s access to vaccines is limited, and community health clinics can only distribute what they receive. Renteria is hopeful that with additional federal funding to increase vaccine production and distribution, local supplies will increase. Until then, she encourages people to continue to follow safety measures such as masking and social distancing.

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March 11, 2021 0

A press release from the Alliance for Rural Community Health.

Fort Bragg, CA – Earlier this year, the Biden Administration announced a new partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. A recent White House briefing reported that “given the critical role that these providers play in their communities, President Biden will launch a new program to ensure that FQHCs can directly access vaccine supply where needed. At the same time, the administration will encourage jurisdictions to engage and work closely with health centers in their community vaccination planning.”

In Mendocino County, FQHCs include community health centers such as Anderson Valley Health Center in Boonville, Long Valley Health Center in Laytonville, MCHC Health Centers in Ukiah and Willits, Mendocino Coast Clinics in Fort Bragg, and Redwood Coast Medical Services in Gualala. Nationally, FQHCs serve more than 30 million patients each year — one in 11 people nationwide. Locally, FQHCs and affiliated community health centers such as Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic in Willits, serve about two-thirds of people in Mendocino County, providing everything from medical care to behavioral health services, dental care, and some specialty services.

During the pandemic, FQHCs have been a crucial resource in delivering COVID testing and vaccines because these community health centers have trusting relationships with patients throughout the county, including in the most remote parts of our county.

In partnership with Mendocino County Public Health and Adventist Health, local community health clinics have administered more than 20,000 vaccines to Mendocino County residents.

Mendocino Coast Clinics Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said, “As soon as we receive notice that vaccine doses are coming our way, we jump into action and schedule vaccination clinics in line with the County’s vaccine distribution plan. We often have very short notice, but that doesn’t stop us from doing everything we can to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

The County’s vaccine distribution plan can be found online at mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations. The County is currently vaccinating people in the first two phases of the plan, which includes healthcare workers, people 65 and older, and people in essential job sectors such as education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture. In addition, people of any age with proof of the following medical conditions—those that increase vulnerability to COVID-19—are eligible for vaccination.

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease (stage 4)
  • Oxygen-dependent COPD
  • Diabetes (hemoglobin A1c > 7.5%)
  • Heart disease (heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy)
  • Immunocompromised state due to disease or medications
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe obesity (BMI > 40kg/m2)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Physical or mental disabilities that increase risk of severe COVID or would cause problems caring for them if they contracted the virus.

The County’s access to vaccines is limited, and community health clinics can only distribute what they receive. Renteria is hopeful that with additional federal funding to increase vaccine production and distribution, local supplies will increase. Until then, she encourages people to continue to follow safety measures such as masking and social distancing.

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Alliance for Rural Community Health (ARCH) is a collaboration of six community health centers in Mendocino County, California. Our purpose is to develop and expand collaborative ways of addressing community health care issues in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Learn more at ruralcommunityhealth.org.

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February 25, 2021 0

Fort Bragg, CA – On Friday night, February 19, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) Executive Director Lucresha Renteria received a call offering 800 extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The MCC staff had just completed a vaccine event giving 211 Pfizer vaccines and despite the late hour and short notice, Renteria said yes.  The planning process started and calls were made on Saturday to businesses in the approved tiers and community members eligible for the vaccine. This has been the story since the beginning of the pandemic: because MCC has the relationships and infrastructure to serve coastal residents quickly, MCC is called upon to get the job done.

“I am happy we can do it,” Renteria said. “That’s why we’re here, to serve our community. Of course, it would be nice if we could get a little more advance notice, but that’s the nature of the situation–everything is changing constantly.”

This week, MCC is holding four vaccine clinics; the only day MCC is not vaccinating at some level is Thursday. The clinics on Tuesday and on Friday are the large 400 vaccine events. The target for these events are for the following groups: people aged 65 years and older, emergency medical responders, school and childcare staff, food workers and agricultural workers. Specifically, this includes those directly involved in growing, harvesting, production, preparing, selling, cooking and serving food products as well as cannabis and lumber. Appointments are needed for the vaccine clinics; you can call (707)964-1251 to be put on a waiting list if no appointments are available at the time you call. “We know what we have for this week but we still don’t know about next week”, Renteria said.

Since people began receiving vaccines in Mendocino County, COVID-19 cases have begun to drop countywide, but medical professionals encourage everyone to remain vigilant. MCC Medical Director Dr. Lawrence Goldyn said, “We still need to keep wearing masks in public, maintain our physical distancing and wash our hands frequently.”

MCC also continues to provide free, drive-through surveillance testing every Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon by appointment. Those interested can call (707) 964-1251 to schedule a test. Recipients need not be MCC patients. Mendocino County Public Health is also providing surveillance testing every Tuesday on the coast via their mobile OptumServe testing team. For details and to register, visit lhi.care/covidtesting. For more information, call the Mendocino County COVID Call Center at (707) 472-2759 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

As a reminder, when people test positive for COVID-19, they are required to isolate at home for 10 days or until their symptoms are resolved, whichever is longer. Members of their household along with other close contacts must quarantine for 14 days. For the latest Mendocino County coronavirus updates, visit www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus.

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January 27, 2021 0

In partnership with Mendocino County Public Health and Adventist Health, local community health clinics have vaccinated more than 2,400 Mendocino County residents. In Boonville, Anderson Valley Health Center vaccinated 570 people. In Willits, Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic vaccinated 30, representing all the vaccine they received from the County. In North County, Long Valley Health Center vaccinated 220. On the coast, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) vaccinated 675 people and Redwood Coast Medical Services vaccinated 905.

“Despite scarcity of the vaccine, once the county has provided it, the clinics have mobilized to get their communities vaccinated,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.

Community health centers are well-positioned to connect with the people first in line for the vaccine and have been following County guidance to this effect. The County’s vaccine distribution plan can be found at www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations. The phased approach gives preference to healthcare workers, people 75 and older, and people in essential job sectors such as education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture.

The County’s access to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is limited, and community health clinics can only distribute what they receive. Renteria is hopeful that with additional federal funding to increase vaccine production and distribution, local supplies will increase. Until then, she encourages people to continue to follow safety measures such as masking and social distancing.

Another way to limit the spread of COVID-19 is continued surveillance testing, available countywide from private healthcare providers, community health clinics, and Public Health. Testing is available at no charge on the coast by appointment at MCC and through OptumServe on Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. at the Veterans’ Hall at 360 N. Harrison Street in Fort Bragg where tests are first come, first serve. Inland free testing is available daily from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. through OptumServe at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds located at 1055 N. State Street in Ukiah. For OptumServe testing, people should register online at lhi.care/covidtesting before arriving to get a Patient ID Number.

For more information, call the Mendocino County COVID Call Center at (707) 472-2759 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Alliance for Rural Community Health (ARCH) is a collaboration of six community health centers in Mendocino County, California. Our purpose is to develop and expand collaborative ways of addressing community health care issues in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Learn more at ruralcommunityhealth.org.

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December 2, 2020 0

Fort Bragg, CA – El sábado 21 de noviembre, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) colaboraró con el Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino para realizar pruebas de COVID-19 a más de 210 personas para determinar el alcance de la propagación del virus después de un brote que fue autoinformado por Noyo Harbor Inn en Fort Bragg. Debido a que las pruebas de vigilancia no están disponibles actualmente en la costa, muchos residentes costeros aprovecharon la oportunidad de hacerse la prueba, lo que llevó a la necesidad de que el Departamento de Policía de Fort Bragg proporcione control de tráfico. Gracias a estos servidores de la comunidad por intervenir cuando fue necesario.

La directora ejecutiva de MCC, Lucresha Rentería, agradeció a los miembros de la comunidad por su paciencia, mientras las líneas llegaban a N. Harbor Drive. “Pudimos realizarle pruebas a una gran cantidad de personas, en gran parte porque todos mantuvieron la calma y siguieron las instrucciones. Dado que se trataba de una prueba de brotes, no se hizo con cita previa, lo que significa que tuvimos que registrar y evaluar a las personas ese día y eso lleva un poco más de tiempo “, dijo.  Cuando MCC recibió la confirmación de que la Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino pudo proporcionar los equipos de prueba y el equipo de registro necesarios, además de la publicación en Facebook de la Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino, MCC trabajó para publicitar el evento de prueba. “Solo teníamos un día de anticipación. Lo publicamos en las redes sociales y Joe Regelski de KOZT lo anunció como solo él puede “, dijo Rentería. “Y todo salió bien. Nunca hemos realizado tantas pruebas  en un día “.

Con el aumento de los casos de COVID-19 en todo el condado, es especialmente importante que las personas sigan cumpliendo con las precauciones de seguridad, como el uso de mascarillas y el distanciamiento físico, explicó Rentería. Cuando las personas dan positivo en la prueba de COVID-19, deben aislarse en casa durante 10 días o hasta que se resuelvan sus síntomas, lo que sea más largo. Los miembros de su hogar deben estar en cuarentena durante 14 días. Dado que los miembros de la familia potencialmente nunca son evaluados, es probable que el número de casos activos esté subestimado.

Rentería dijo: “Según una publicación reciente en las redes sociales del vicealcalde del Ayuntamiento de Fort Bragg Bernie Norvell, un recuento reciente mostró que teníamos 17 casos activos en la costa norte y otros 30 posibles positivos en cuarentena en el código postal 95437 de Fort Bragg. Durante mucho tiempo, no vimos muchos casos a nivel local, pero eso ha cambiado “, dijo Rentería. Tiene la esperanza de que, sabiendo que hay una vacuna en el horizonte, la gente luchará contra la fatiga por COVID y mantendrá prácticas seguras durante todo el invierno.

Aunque MCC ya no proporciona pruebas de vigilancia para aquellos que no tienen síntomas, pero si proporciona pruebas de COVID-19 para personas sintomáticas. Las personas que no presentan síntomas necesitan una prueba de PCR. Las personas con síntomas pueden recibir una prueba de antígeno que busca una proteína del virus. Es importante hacerse el tipo de prueba correcto. Si las personas son asintomáticas y si obtienen una prueba de antígeno, pueden obtener un resultado falso negativo, lo que proporciona una sensación de seguridad que puede ser inexacta.

Salud Pública está trabajando actualmente para proporcionar un equipo móvil para realizar pruebas de vigilancia de COVID-19 en todo el condado, asociándose con las comunidades locales para encontrar un espacio donde se puedan realizar las pruebas. Para obtener las últimas actualizaciones sobre el coronavirus de Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino, visite www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus. Para programar una cita médica en MCC, llame al (707) 964-1251.

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December 2, 2020 0

Fort Bragg, CA – On Saturday, November 21, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) collaborated with Mendocino County Public Health to test more than 210 people for COVID-19 to determine the extent of the virus’s spread after an outbreak that was self-reported by Noyo Harbor Inn in Fort Bragg. Because surveillance testing is not currently available on the coast, many coastal residents took advantage of the opportunity to get tested, leading to the need for the Fort Bragg Police Department to provide traffic control. MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria thanked Fort Bragg’s finest for stepping in when needed.

She also thanked community members for their patience, as lines reached to N. Harbor Drive. “We were able to test a huge number of people, in large part because everyone remained calm and followed directions. Since this was outbreak testing, it wasn’t done by appointment, which means we had to register and test people that day and that takes a little longer,” she said.

When MCC received confirmation that Public Health was able to provide the requisite test kits and registration team, MCC joined Public Health in publicizing the event. Public Health and MCC posted information on their Facebook pages. “We only had about a day’s notice. We put it out on social media and KOZT’s Joe Regelski announced it as only he can,” Renteria said. “And, it all came together. We’ve never tested that many people in one day.”

With COVID-19 cases surging countywide, it is especially important that people continue to adhere to safety precautions such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, Renteria explained. When people test positive for COVID-19, they are required to isolate at home for 10 days or until their symptoms are resolved, whichever is longer. Members of their household must quarantine for 14 days. Since the family members are potentially never tested, the number of active cases is likely undercounted.

Renteria said, “According to a recent social media post by Fort Bragg City Council Vice-Mayor Bernie Norvell, a recent count showed that we had 17 active cases on the North Coast and another 30 potential positives quarantining in the 95437 Fort Bragg zip code. For a long time, we didn’t see many cases locally, but that’s changed.” Renteria is hopeful that with the knowledge that a vaccine is on the horizon, people will fight against COVID fatigue and maintain safe practices throughout the winter.

Although MCC is no longer providing surveillance testing for those who do not have symptoms, it is providing COVID-19 testing for symptomatic people. People with no symptoms need a PCR test. People with symptoms can receive an antigen test that checks for a protein of the virus. It is important to get the right type of test. If people are asymptomatic and they get an antigen test, they can get a false-negative result, providing a sense of security that may be appropriate.

Public Health is currently working on providing a mobile team to do COVID-19 surveillance testing throughout the county, partnering with local communities to find space where testing can take place. For the latest Mendocino County Public Health coronavirus updates, visit www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus. To schedule a medical appointment at MCC, call (707) 964-1251.

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November 19, 2020 0

Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is pleased to announce the arrival of physician assistant Stefanie Forrester, a medical provider with more than 20 years of experience who relocated from Sand Point, Alaska, a rural community even smaller than Fort Bragg.

Forrester chose MCC for personal and professional reasons: she was looking for a rural coastal community and she wanted to find a health center where she could provide patients with excellent and comprehensive care. MCC fit the bill on both accounts.

She said, “I was very impressed with the structure and the staff at Mendocino Coast Clinics and continue to be very happy with the organization’s professionalism. I have seen that working here allows me to work to the top of my license, and I look forward to being in an environment with multiple providers so that we may share in our knowledge and learn from each other.”

She describes her approach to medicine as collaborative with the goal of developing strong relationships with her patients. For her, she says, this starts with listening. “Often, patients will tell you what is wrong with them if you listen and give them the time to talk, and then we, as a provider and patient team, can work together to find the most appropriate treatment plan. Working together improves patient compliance and satisfaction.”

Forrester was always drawn to medicine. “Growing up, I wanted to be an emergency room physician. I worked as an emergency room technician during college and for a few years after graduating while I worked on my pre-requisites for medical school. Ultimately, I decided to pursue PA school so that I could have a good work/life balance. That’s when I became very interested in family medicine and internal medicine.” She said she enjoys spending time getting to know patients and their families and she likes the challenge of having to be proficient in all types of medicine to best care for her patients and/or get them to the appropriate specialist.

Forrester’s reasons for choosing a small coastal community are deeply personal. She said, “I have been living and working in rural Alaska and have become accustomed to seeing and hearing the ocean every day. I find it very calming for me. I lost my father at an early age to cancer and we scattered his ashes in the ocean beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Whenever I am near the ocean, I feel his presence and take comfort in knowing that he is still with me in another form. Fort Bragg is a beautiful little ocean town that will allow me to breathe in the ocean smells every day.”

The fact that Fort Bragg was a small rural fishing town was an added bonus, since Forrester had such a positive experience in Alaska in a similar environment. Of small towns in general, she said, “I enjoy living in a small community. I feel it helps me get to know my patients better. It’s nice to be in a place that’s small enough to run into patients or co-workers in the stores or on the walking trails on the weekends.” She is also looking forward to exploring the local art and music culture, as her significant other is both an artist and musician. “I feel that we will be happy to put roots down in this community,” she said.

When Forrester is not working, she spends plenty of time with her four-year-old German Shepherd and her Siberian Husky puppy. She also loves to dance and plans to take an adult tap or ballet class when time allows. Finally, she says she adores horses and would welcome the opportunity to help out at a horse ranch, cleaning stalls in exchange for riding. “It’s great exercise and great for the soul. I hope to find a horse ranch to spend weekends on once I’m further established here in Fort Bragg,” she said.

MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said she is already impressed with Forrester’s attention to patients and her clear desire to provide top-quality care.

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November 12, 2020 0

Fort Bragg, CA – As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, more people on the coast are struggling to meet their basic needs. In response, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is partnering with local government and other organizations to provide essential health services to as many people as possible, including registering people for CalFresh.

When people do not have enough money to cover basic living expenses, they are forced to make hard choices. This is the situation CalFresh is designed to address. CalFresh is California’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly referred to as food stamps), and it provides monthly food benefits to low-income individuals and families to increase their food budget so they can put more healthy food on the table. CalFresh is the largest food program in California; it is federally funded, state-supervised and county-operated.

To provide these benefits to as many coastal residents as possible, MCC offers the free service of helping people apply for benefits. During this pandemic, the MCC Outreach Department is mostly talking with people over the phone to walk them through the process of completing the required forms. Then, the only activity that must occur in person is signing the form and making some copies, which is quick and easy, according to MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.

The CalFresh benefits a household receives depend on household size, household income, and monthly expenses, including costs like housing and utilities. A family of four with a gross monthly income of $4,292 (or about $51,500 per year) is eligible and the definition of household does not require people to be related, simply to buy and prepare food together. The average CalFresh household receives more than $300 per month, with a household of four being eligible for as much as $642 per month. Details about eligibility are available online at mycalfresh.org/the-basics.

The program issues monthly benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, and food may be purchased at any grocery store or farmers market that accepts EBT cards, including members of the Mendocino County Farmers Market Association, knows as “McFarm” (mcfarm.org). Here on the coast, the Fort Bragg Farmers Market is open year-round with winter hours on Wednesdays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, rain or shine. All McFarm markets not only accept CalFresh EBT cards to pay for food, they also offer matching funds. CalFresh recipients and those with pandemic relief EBT cards can trade their CalFresh dollars for Market Bucks and the market matches up to about $20, which helps CalFresh dollars go further. The matched dollars must be used on fruits or vegetables, while the rest of the Market Bucks can be used for CalFresh-approved food purchases. The Market Bucks do not expire; however, they must be used at the market where they were purchased. The matching program is funded by the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program and administered locally by North Coast Opportunities.

Farmers Market Director Julie Apostolu said, “CalFresh recipients simply need to come to the farmers market manager’s table where they can use their EBT card to purchase Market Bucks tokens. Thanks to the FINI grant, CalFresh recipients receive fresh produce and other healthy food from the farmers market and all vendors are reimbursed for the full value of their product.”

Renteria said, “Sometimes when money is tight, people choose low-cost fast food or pre-packaged food, which doesn’t have the nutrients to keep people healthy. Fast food is full of high fat, salt, and calories that, over time, can lead to obesity which is a risk-factor for a lot of chronic illnesses. It’s wonderful that our local farmers markets make it easy for everyone to get fresh, healthy food.”

Copyright by Mendocino Coast Clinics. All rights reserved. This Health Center receives HHS funding and has Federal PHS deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals. This Health Center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 245b, and deemed a Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233 (g)-(n). Any claim filed against MCC must be done in federal court.

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