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.
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