Friday, April 3, 2015 12:00 AM

Bringing big-city medical specialists and research to the Valley

The Central San Joaquin Valley has one of the lowest physician-per-capita ratios in California, and changes in healthcare are making it harder for people to find a doctor here. Community Medical Centers’ 40-year partnership with the University of California, San Francisco – rated among the top five best medical schools in the nation – educates more than 300 physicians a year in Community’s hospitals.

Community has invested more than $417 million in unreimbursed medical education expenses during the past 10 years, bringing expert faculty doctors, specialists and research to the Valley so that residents can find the best care near their homes. In addition to its UCSF Fresno partnership, Community clinics and hospitals also serve as educational training grounds for three pharmacy residents and 11 dental residents annually – all professions that have shortages in the Valley.

About 40% of U.S. hospital charity care is provided by the 6 percent of hospitals that are teaching hospitals. And academic medical centers like Community also provide something else unique – affording physicians and scientists a place to conduct groundbreaking research that brings life-saving care and the latest treatments and technologies.

“We do the kind of research that wouldn’t get done anywhere else and directly benefits our patients here,” said Dr. Michael W. Peterson, interim associate dean at UCSF Fresno and vice-chair of Medicine at UCSF, citing the unique research done here on Valley Fever as an example. “We’ve done studies in the past on the links between pesticides and breast cancer in our farmworker population. We are seeking funding to conduct a large research project on premature births in our region. Those wouldn’t be done in other places.”

About 3,000 physicians have been educated through this partnership so far. “Up to 40% of the physicians trained at UCSF Fresno already stay to provide care for Valley community members,” said Dr. Peterson.


Erin Kennedy reported this story. She can be reached at