There is always something so special about coming across a little sliver of our local history. This article was written by Jerry Teague and published in the March 16th, 1981 edition of the Oroville Mercury-Register. It details the humble beginnings and growth of our healthcare organization from over 40 years ago when we opened our clinic in Oroville. We are very proud to see how far we have come since.
By JERRY TEAGUE
March 16, 1981
For the first time in its 10 years of operation, the Northern Valley Indian Health Clinic is under one roof at 2167 Montgomery St. The opening of the new clinic building was celebrated Saturday with a ribbon cutting, buffet lunch and open house. Mayor Clayton D’Arcy, Supervisor Bertha Moseley, Councilman Henry McCall, Ernie Paul, Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce manager, and about 75 interested citizens participated.
About 90 percent of the people who use the clinic’s services, which range from medical to dental, are Indians. Gerald Kane, executive director said if non-Indians seek treatment, “We don’t turn them away if they come in.”
The clinic estimates there are 2000 Indians in Butte County. Kane said they are not all from local tribes, as many have come here other areas. They are integrated in the community, he said. The clinic is financed with an $89,000 state grant, $230,000 federal grant, and patient charges. The patients are charged on the basis of their ability to pay. It is less than what they would be charged by a private doctor or dentist, Kane said.
There are 18 clinic employees. A nurse practitioner is on duty fulltime, and the clinic has the part-time services of a doctor, Dr. Steven C. Fales of the Gridley Medical Group. Dr. David Altman, 29, is the fulltime dentist. He’s booked with appointments for three months, and says the clinic is considering hiring another assistant and part-time dentist to help out. Although solidly booked, Dr. Altman said he sees all walk-in emergency cases.
Dr. Altman is a native of Chico, going through Bidwell Junior High School, Chico High School and Chico State University before graduating from the University of California at San Francisco dental school in 1978. Admitting he could probably make much more money in private practice, Dr. Altman said the job satisfaction is worth the difference. “I like it here…I enjoy it.” he said.
He said the clinic has the talent and facilities to provide quality care to the patients. “It’s no different than anywhere else,” he said. Kane, the director, is a native of Bishop. He came to Oroville from Sacramento where he was involved in a similar program.
The facilities seem to be equivalent to what one would see in a doctor or dentist’s office, with examining rooms, dental chairs and x-ray equipment. The place is spotless. The buffet was delicious, with members of the board of directors and employees serving as the most cordial hosts.