Shared Histories Help Shape PAMF's Future
When Camino Medical Group, Palo Alto Medical Clinic and Santa Cruz Medical Clinic joined to form a single physician group on January 1, 2008, their shared values and common history as pioneering Bay Area medical groups became all the more apparent.
Examined next to each other, the histories of the three groups often share remarkable similarities. Each group was founded by the same number of doctors – six – and each has a long history of being the first in its service area with new technologies, treatments and ways of providing care.
As these groups begin the next chapter of their histories, it is interesting to look back and examine their similar pasts.
- How We Began: Palo Alto Medical Clinic
- How We Began: Camino Medical Group
- How We Began: Santa Cruz Medical Clinic
Back to top
When Palo Alto Medical Clinic (PAMC) –- the oldest of the three historic physician groups affiliated with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) –- formed in 1930, the idea of doctors working together was so revolutionary that some thought it to be anticompetitive, or even communist. PAMC was not only one of the first physician groups in the country, but also one of the first in the region to offer a specialist in obstetrics and surgery, and a pediatrician who also happened to be one of Palo Alto's first female physicians.
As Palo Alto and Stanford University grew, so did PAMC. The group soon developed a synergistic relationship with Stanford, helping to teach its medical students and recruiting many of its new physicians from among the Stanford graduates. PAMC also played a key role in bringing Stanford Medical School, which was originally located in San Francisco, to Palo Alto in 1960.
By the 1970s, however, factors such as the growth of managed care and the rising cost for incoming doctors to buy into the partnership were threatening PAMC's future well-being. To solve the problem, the for-profit physician group decided to create a not-for-profit foundation that would control its operations and assets. In 1981, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation was formed and a period of dynamic change began, including the opening of a second clinic, the Fremont Center, in 1984 and the addition of an outpatient surgery center in 1986.
In 1993, PAMF became a Sutter Health affiliate and continued to grow. Work soon began on a new medical campus, and in 1999, the 305,000-square-foot PAMF Palo Alto Center opened to patients. On the eve of the physician group merger, PAMC had grown to include more than 380 doctors caring for patients at 15 locations: Castro Valley Primary Care, Castro Valley Women's Health, Dublin Center, Fremont Center, Los Altos Center, Menlo Park Surgical Hospital, Palo Alto Center, Portola Valley Women's Health Center, Redwood City Center, Redwood City Women's Health Center, Redwood Shores Center, San Carlos Family Medicine, Sunnyvale Sports Medicine and Welch Road Nephrology.
Back to top
Like Palo Alto Medical Clinic and Santa Cruz Medical Clinic, Camino Medical Group (CMG) grew out of a belief that doctors working together could provide better care to patients. CMG was founded in 1954 as the Sunnyvale Medical Clinic. The original group consisted of six doctors working in a one-story building. Over the next 35 years, the practice expanded to a 100-doctor multispecialty medical group operating out of five clinics in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and Mountain View.
In 1994, the group added 28 more doctors and changed its name to Camino Medical Group. At the same time, it also established an integrated health care delivery system with El Camino Hospital. However, this partnership ended three years later.
In 1997, the group re-established itself as an independent multispecialty group. It became one of Northern California’s largest physician-owned medical groups, with more than 160 medical providers caring for 140,000 patients in the South Bay area. Three years later, the group affiliated with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and began to operate as a not-for-profit entity, creating one of the largest multispecialty group practices in California.
On the eve of the 2008 merger, the former CMG had grown to more than 250 physicians seeing patients at eight locations: Mountain View Center, Santa Clara Center, Sleep Disorder Center, Sunnyvale Center, West Valley Clinic and three additional Sunnyvale offices.
Back to top
The collaborative spirit that inspired the creation of Palo Alto Medical Clinic and Camino Medical Group also lay at the heart of Santa Cruz Medical Clinic (SCMC). Founded in 1953 to serve what was then a small coastal community, the group soon found itself caring for a broader patient community when the University of California, Santa Cruz was established in 1965 and a younger community of students moved in. By then, SCMC had grown to 12 physicians, and it would double in size again by 1975.
When SCMC became a Sutter Health and Palo Alto Medical Foundation affiliate in 1995, it had grown to include specialty offices for pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, urology, urgent care, and obstetrics and gynecology, as well as an off-site facility just for physical therapy.
At the time of its affiliation with Sutter Health, SCMC also created the non-profit Santa Cruz Medical Foundation (SCMF) to manage its operations. This allowed SCMC to work with Sutter to create a free-standing licensed, accredited hospital facility built specifically to offer state-of-the-art perinatal and medical and surgical services. The Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center of Santa Cruz – a joint project of Sutter Health and SCMF –- opened to patients in March 1996.
Being a bigger player in the region strengthened SCMC, but the group was not quite done growing. Two years later, in 1998, the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Santa Cruz and Mid-Coast VNA affiliated with Sutter and PAMF. This completed the three components of the Santa Cruz integrated delivery system: ambulatory multispecialty physician group, acute-care hospital services and home health services.
Before the physician group merger, the former SCMC included more than 130 providers caring for patients at 16 locations: the Aptos office, Downtown office, Santa Cruz office, Scotts Valley office, Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center, VNA of Santa Cruz office, Watsonville office, Westside office and eight specialty offices.
Back to top