In the Media

West county doctor recognized for work with homeless

November 28, 2018 – in Sonoma West by E.I. Hillin

On a typical workday in Guerneville, family doctor Jared Garrison-Jakel attends to patients who are often dealing with more than just an ailment medicine can cure. His patients at the Russian River Health Center include those who do not have a permanent home, are struggling with substance abuse or living with some other mental health disorder — all of which make scheduling a doctor’s appointment a difficult or even impossible task.

“If you don’t know where you are sleeping tonight, making an appointment two or three weeks in advance doesn’t work,” he said. “We need immediacy.”

With this challenge in mind, Garrison-Jakel, of Forestville, implemented a new model for West County Health Centers (WCHC) to see un-housed patients on the same day they schedule the appointment. The new system has proven to be a success, serving on average five un-housed patients a day.

“It’s always been my goal as a family doctor to meet the needs of the community,” Garrison-Jakel said.

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Personal recovery after a traumatic event

December 29, 2017 – in Press Democrat - Rebuild North Bay Special Section by Marian Pena, LCSW, WCHC Director of Behavioral Health Services

Resiliency is defined as the ability to overcome and bounce back from challenges of all kinds- traumatic events, tragedy, loss, personal crises and regular life problems. 

The October North Bay fires and their aftermath present many challenges to the residents of Sonoma County, including how to be resilient in the face of so much widespread devastation.

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After Wine Country fires, victims confront emotional ruins: ‘We have a long way to go’

December 16, 2017 – in San Francisco Chronicle by Lizzie Johnson

Private health networks, like West County Health Centers, have also seen an increase in cases of depression and anxiety and other chronic illnesses, officials said.  The issues have been exacerbated by how far from normal many victims lives have veered.  Many have seen their churches, jobs, and children's school - thier daily rhythms - disrupted.

"People are more susceptible to trauma because they don't have their normal community support," said Jason Dunningham, medical director of West County Health Centers, which provides services from several locations.  "Initially we had this community coming together, and it was actually life-giving.  They were supporting one another.  We aren't putting the same attention on those feelings as we did the first two weeks."

Cunningham said his staff compared state maps of fire damage to maps of where existing patients live, in order to locate high-risk victims who might need extra support.  Health workers called those people in the weeks after the fires to check in and offer resources, everything from help with FEMA applications to therapy referrals.

"We know these people," Cunningham said.  "We want to hear how they're doing and hear their story.  It's a familiar voice to connect with.  That social support is important so they don't try to self-medicate with things like alcohol."

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How to talk to kids about fires and earthquakes, before and after they happen

October 27, 2017 – in Los Angeles Times by Sonali Kohli

It’s important to check in with kids even if they’re not asking questions, said Marian Pena, the behavioral health director at West County Health Centers in Sonoma County, where recent fires destroyed thousands of homes and killed more than 20 people. Some children will develop anxiety because they’re stressed and don’t have an outlet for that stress.

“A lot of parents feel like if they don’t ever talk to their kids about this, it’s out of sight out of mind,” she said.

But that’s not true. Children are thinking about what’s happening around them, whether or not they ask their parents about it. And it’s important for parents to provide the most accurate information, and reassure children that they are safe.

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Wildfires stressed wine country's healthcare system, creating a crisis and a warning for future

October 18, 2017 – in Los Angeles Times by Soumya Karlamangla

The aftermath of the fire presented countless challenges for the rest of the healthcare system.

Many residents struggled to breathe because of the smoky air.  Tens of thousands of people were evacuated into schools and fairgrounds across the region.

“Each shelter had to figure out how do you manage these almost MASH-unit trauma centers,” said Jason Cunningham, chief medical officer for the West County Health Centers.

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Sonoma Spotlight - Rebuilding the Russian River Health Center

September 14, 2017 – in KRCB by Roland Jacopetti

Mary Szecsey Cheif Executive Officer for West County Health Centers, talks with Roland Jacopetti on KRCB's Sonoma Spotlight about the Capital Campaign to rebuild the new Russian River Health & Wellness Center.

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$1.8M raised to rebuild Russian River Health Center in west Sonoma County

August 22, 2017 – in North Bay Business Journal by Cynthia Sweeney

 West County Health Centers (WCHC) has raised $1.84 million towards a goal of $4.2 million for a new Russian River Health Center.

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Building Support for West County Health Centers

August 20, 2017 – in Press Democrat - Celebrate Community by Chris Smith

Much good has happened since flames destroyed the community health center in the heart of Guerneville the day sfter Christmas 2015, and also since then the ranks of people in need of quality, affordable, medical care have grown. 

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Russian River Health Center launching Capital Campaign

August 8, 2017 – in Sonoma West Times & News by Frank Robertson

 Fund raising for Guerneville’s new $10.5 million Russian River Health & Wellness Center planned for First Street, next door to the Guerneville Safeway, kicks off with a capital campaign launch event on Aug. 18.

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Seniors: health care starts at any age

July 13, 2017 – in Sonoma West Times and News - Living Well by Dr. Rhonda Berney

Dr. Rhonda Berney is a Primary Care Provider at Sebastopol Community Health Centers one of West County Health Centers four primary care sites. Call today to ask about your Annual Medicare Wellness Visit with your provider.

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West County Health Centers 2017 Annual Report 

Covered California Enrollment Assistance

WCHC Brochure