Blue Shield of California, Teladoc support Paradise, CA patients in wake of fires

Telemedicine services will be available to Paradise Medical Group patients at no extra charge.
By Jonah Comstock
02:36 pm

Photo by Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Blue Shield of California has tapped Teladoc to assist with a $2 million relief effort for Paradise, California, the small town that was ravaged last year by fires.

The fire destroyed the largest clinic of Paradise Medical Group, one of the town’s major hospitals.

Blue Shield has helped the hospital in a number of ways, including assisting with its relocation to a new space in Chico, California. The insurer also reached out to Teladoc, which is offering telemedicine service at no additional cost to all PMG patients.

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“We’ve worked over the years with Blue Cross Blue Shield in various initiatives and multiple populations,” Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic told MobiHealthNews. “We were very happy that they came to us with this challenge that they were facing which is, in the wake of this terrible fire and the displacement of the people in that community, which included the Paradise Medical Group, PMG reached out them to say ‘What can you do to help us get our community back on their feet and get our practice back on its feet?’”

While not all patients in the community can be treated with telemedicine, a large number can, Gorevic said, and that means fewer patients will have to make the trek to the Chico facility from wherever they have resettled.

“What we’ve seen in that community is a proliferation of upper respiratory, other breathing issues, asthma issues that result from the fires,” he said. “And a lot of those things, in fact most of them are able to be diagnosed and treated remotely. So we’ve been able to help those physicians in that medical practice really stand up a virtual practice while that community recovers.”

Why it matters

Crisis situations like this illustrate the value of telemedicine and its convenience and flexibility.

“Virtual care is truly the great equalizer that enabled high-quality care for the community of Paradise, regardless of the physical boundaries or, in this case, the devastation from the fires,” Gorevic said.

What’s the trend

Telemedicine has proven itself a valuable resource in many different kinds of natural disasters. For instance, a number of telemedicine vendors offered pro-bono services during major hurricanes in 2017 and 2018.

On the record

“Paradise Medical Group is extremely thankful for Blue Shield of California’s generous support that has assisted us to care for our patients and our community during and after this catastrophe,” Dr. Richard Thorp, president of Paradise Medical Group, said in a statement. “The Camp Fire was a devastating event and this support has not only helped us meet immediate financial and operational needs, but also is helping us rebuild our community with an even better care delivery system. Paradise Medical Group possibly would not have survived without Blue Shield’s assistance.”