Melissa Phelps, who lives in rural Grass Valley, California, needed to see a specialist to treat her rheumatoid arthritis. Like many Medi-Cal patients in rural areas of the state, the care she needed was out of reach. The closest available specialist was between 60 and 100 miles away, meaning that Melissa was blocked from getting timely care by the difficulty of taking time off work and finding someone to care for her elderly father, Earl, when she was out of town. Meanwhile, her arthritis worsened and she was unable to walk.
Then her primary care clinic, Chapa-De Indian Health, implemented a telehealth program that enables patients to obtain timely specialty care. Melissa soon saw a specialist via live video and got a prescription for the medication she needed. Within two days, she was walking again.
In this video, Melissa shares her experience and Lisa Davies, CEO of Chapa-De Indian Health, discusses the value of telehealth to the clinic and its patients. This is the second in a series of patient stories exploring how telehealth can improve access to care for Medi-Cal patients at community health centers across rural California.
Christopher Perrone is director of CHCF’s Improving Access team, which works to improve access to coverage and care for low-income Californians. Chris was previously director of the foundation’s Health Reform and Public Programs initiative, where he led efforts to improve the policies and practices that shape Medi-Cal and other publicly funded health care programs, and to promote greater transparency and accountability within these programs.
Prior to joining CHCF, Chris served as director of planning for the Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance. He was the first external recipient of the Globe Award, given by the Office of Strategic Planning at HCFA (now CMS), for his work to improve the delivery and financing of acute and long-term care services for low-income seniors. He has also held positions with The Lewin Group, the American Psychological Association, and the Center for Health Policy Studies at Georgetown University. Chris received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University.