Medicine Meets Mission
How do you bring healthcare to people in hard-to-reach areas, across a sprawling rural region? At Adventist Health’s Central Valley Network, the answer is nearly 40 ambulatory clinics, a mobile “clinic on wheels,” four hospitals – and now, two medical residency programs.
Dr. Joseph Maddela is a resident physician in the newest family medicine residency program, which began this summer at Adventist Health Tulare. "Having grown up in a rural community, it’s been my dream to give back to the people that raised me," Dr. Maddela says.
Dr. Maddela grew up in the Bakersfield, Calif., area, watching his father provide care in the community as a family medicine physician himself. He decided to pursue medicine in high school but kept an open mind about which specialty to pursue.
The answer became clear in medical school. “During my family medicine rotation, I enjoyed it so much that I did multiple family medicine rotations after the first one,” he recalls. “I enjoyed getting to know the patients, learning what gives them hope, what makes them happy, and seeing their improvement over the continuity of care.”
As part of their training at Adventist Health’s Central Valley Network, Dr. Maddela and his colleagues will provide care at clinics throughout the area, in the Tulare hospital, and on the mobile unit, which travels across a 200-mile area and is fully equipped with the exam rooms, equipment and technology needed to provide care.
“We're taking the best of what we have in our hospitals and our clinics, and we have equipped this mobile unit to go out into the areas that have not been seen before,” explains Raul Ayala, MD, Ambulatory Medical Officer and Designated Institutional Official for Adventist Health’s Central Valley Network. “We have towns that are less than 500 people or 1,000 people, and the next healthcare provider is maybe 30, 50, or even 100 miles away.”
The mobile unit is one part of a vision to bring healthcare – including a growing number of medical specialties – to clinics and sites throughout the region. This vision also includes the family medicine residency program at Adventist Health Hanford; an upcoming collaborative residency program with Adventist Health Sonora; an internal medicine residency program launching in 2023; and clinic rotations for medical, physician assistant and nurse practitioner students from over 50 schools.
“We have increased the number of experiences and opportunities for students to learn more about Adventist Health, to learn more about the community, to learn more about how they can make a difference,” says Dr. Ayala.
“I wanted to start my practice in a community that really needs care – an underserved community,” shares Dr. Shiveta Cherwoo, also a family medicine resident at Tulare. “When you're able to do your own job fully and [provide] the care which patients haven't received for years, they are so thankful.”
For providers like Dr. Cherwoo, this opportunity to make a difference means long-term commitment to a community that needs it. And, she adds, this commitment is rooted in passion.
“I think the best part about medicine is what you impact in a patient's life,” she says. “I think if that's what people are looking for – to fulfill their passion – this is the place to work.”