The Plumas District Hospital staff and its board of directors gather in front of the new sign acknowledging the health care organization’s new official designation from U.C. Davis. Photo by Kim Eliason

Celebration at PDH

It’s officially a UC Davis Health Rural Center of Excellence

Plumas District Hospital celebrated the culmination of five years of work with a staff barbecue Sept. 11 to recognize its affiliation with U.C. Davis Health as a Rural Center of Excellence.

It is only the second entity to receive such a distinction —Tahoe Forest in Truckee being the other.

“You guys did such a great job and were recognized by a lot of people besides us,” said Dr. Tom Nesbitt prior to the celebration, referencing PDH’s recognition by the Joint Commission and other entities.

He and colleagues from U.C. Davis were gathered around a picnic table talking to key personnel from PDH who were instrumental in making this affiliation happen.

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Nesbitt sat across from Dr. Jeff Kepple, the former CEO of PDH, who made it one of his goals when he took on the leadership role in 2014.

The pair worked together to make the relationship possible, and even though both have moved on to other work, they wanted to mark the historic occasion for the entities.

“This is a place we’re proud to be affiliated with and send our students,” Nesbitt said.

Rural Prime students can spend a two-month rotation at PDH; non Rural Prime medical students are limited to one month rotation. PDH has become an in-demand destination for both sets of students.

“They see the full scope of a practice here,” Nesbitt said of the type of work the local health care providers do, which includes obstetrics.

PDH is rather unique in providing obstetrics; it’s one of the first services eliminated by many rural hospitals because of the expense.

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Suzanne Edison-Ton, who directs family residencies for U.C. Davis, said, “What impressed us about PDH was their determination to meet the needs of the community even when it’s not financially advantageous for the hospital.”

In addition to the services provided, Nesbitt said the medical students are impressed by physicians’ roles outside of the clinics and hospital.

“They also see the role that physicians play in the community and the impact that the physicians have,” he added.

In addition to the medical student component of the relationship, the affiliation will allow for shared research, added clinical services and education modules.

While PDH had to meet several criteria to achieve the designation, Kepple said that the achievement was the result of “a lot of hard work over many years to pursue excellence.”

According to the requirements: A Rural Center of Excellence designation requires that a hospital be accredited by the Joint Commission (or the equivalent) and meet a rigorous set of criteria that involves clinical care, education and training, and research. Selected hospitals must be using innovative clinical approaches, such as telemedicine, to provide access to quality health care services. It also has to provide educational opportunities that create a “lifelong learning” environment and help train the next generation of clinicians.

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In a statement, Kepple said of the relationship: “Partnering with U.C. Davis Health is really a national model for how a rural hospital can flourish through quality-driven care, while simultaneously training the next generation of rural doctors and providers.”

In announcing the selection of PDH as a Rural Center of Excellence, David Lubarsky, CEO of U.C. Davis Health said the following:

U.C. Davis established its Rural Centers of Excellence program to help advance the delivery of health care for patients in rural areas and to create pathways that will encourage more physicians to practice in rural communities.

Our program creates collaborative partnerships with community providers like Plumas District Hospital, with the goal of improving clinical care access for patients in rural areas and reducing health disparities.

Editor’s note: An important part of the relationship between U.C. Davis and Plumas District Hospital is the teaching aspect. PDH has become a population rotation for students considering rural medicine, and even those who aren’t. Here is one student’s reflections on her experience.

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My experience at Plumas District Hospital for the third year family medicine clerkship with the UC Davis Rural PRIME program far exceeded what I had already been anticipating. The medical providers here offered such a unique experience in family medicine that integrated the outpatient experience with inpatient and obstetrics care while also incorporating learning in other areas of medicine including dermatology. The providers focused on hands on learning and each demonstrated how to be a compassionate, respectful and excellent doctor.

I also was made to feel at home in Quincy and from the beginning was in awe of the beauty of the area as well as the community. As someone interested in both family medicine and rural medicine, I have been inspired by my time at PDH and hope to be able to find a community similar to this one to practice medicine.

Hillary Carneal

U.C. Davis School of Medicine|Rural-PRIME

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MD Candidate, Class of 2021