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Recruiting More Doctors to the Central Valley



Community Health Partners launched two years ago to directly invest in medical research and physician recruitment – and it’s working. (Community Health System)
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The Central San Joaquin Valley has historically had the lowest doctor-to-patient ratio in California. That meant Valley residents may have traveled hundreds of miles to see a specialist for treatment.

During the past decade, though, Community Health System has made investments to ensure Valley residents have access to the highest quality medical care and services close to home — and their support network.

Attracting More Specialists

As we continue to grow, and the local population continues to increase, Community Health System is offering new ways for physicians to work with us. In 2020 we launched Community Health Partners, a not-for-profit medical foundation.

Community Health Partners allows our health system to work with physicians to expand primary and specialty care services by directly investing in things like medical research, advanced equipment, starting new doctor’s offices, recruiting physicians to the area and caring for our underserved populations.

“Community Health Partners is a new but rapidly growing medical foundation focused on delivering unmatched primary and specialty care to meet the healthcare needs of the Central Valley,” said Craig S. Castro, president and CEO of Community Health System.

About 25 practices and 300 providers, including doctors, currently participate in Community Health Partners, expanding the number of specialists in diabetes and endocrinology, gynecologic oncology, hospitalists, maternal-fetal medicine, medical oncology, pediatric primary care, pediatric specialists, primary care, rehabilitation, rheumatology, specialty surgery, spine and neurosurgery, and urology. Hundreds more physicians are in the process to join soon.

“As we re-imagine physician support, ours is a model focused on transparency, accountability and open communication with each of our physician partners to achieve the best results for our patients,” Castro added.

Expanding Our Neuroscience Team

In 2021, Community recruited Dr. Abdullah Lakhani, who is board certified in neurology, to help fill a growing need. He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology with 25 years of experience treating epilepsy, headaches, neck and low back pain, numbness/weakness in the extremities, sleep-related disorders, stroke, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Lakhani, a longtime resident of Southern California, received several offers from hospitals in California, but after meeting Dr. Ian T. Johnson, medical director of Community’s neuroscience program, he realized Fresno would be a great fit.

“Within 15 minutes of meeting him and hearing about the program and plans for growth, I knew this was the right place for me,” said Dr. Lakhani.

Extra Help for New and Growing Practices

For physicians who prefer the medical foundation model, Community Health Partners offers comprehensive benefits, pay protection and additional practice support services in a governance structure broadly represented by provider practices and specialties.

“With this foundation model, we are able to employ the physician and provide them with an office, staff, billing services and more,” said Castro.

Part of an Integrated Health System

Community Health System’s mission is to build the Valley’s premier integrated healthcare delivery system that reliably meets the healthcare needs of our region while exceeding patient expectations.

Along with a hospital network, the system includes Community Provider Network, 1,400 primary care and specialty providers, and Community Care Health, one of the Valley’s largest commercial HMO insurance plans.

The growth is very directed and deliberate. Said Castro: “We believe that by what we do today, we can build a better tomorrow for our community. And we believe that working side by side with our physician partners is the best way to care for the patients we serve.”

For more information on Community Health Partners, visit our website.

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