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.
In 2010, a group of (40) San Mateo doctors joined PAMF, to form the Peninsula Medical Clinic. Together, we share the commitment to provide the highest quality medical care possible in a changing health care environment.
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: Peninsula Medical Clinic
- How We Began: Santa Cruz Medical Clinic
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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.
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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.
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The Peninsula Medical Clinic grew out of a group of doctors with the Mills-Peninsula Medical Group who have been caring for thousands of Peninsula residents since the 1940s.
The shifting demands in health care called for innovation in order to best serve residents with state-of-the-art medical technology and specialists in every field. So, in 2010, a group of 40 San Mateo County doctors launched a partnership with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) to form a new local multispecialty physician group and network.
PMC and PAMF were a natural fit. We share a desire to provide the highest-quality health care to patients. We are committed to excellence, collaboration and compassion.
The new multispecialty group, Peninsula Medical Clinic (PMC), contracts with PAMF to provide physician services, and also works in conjunction with a network of more than 350 independent doctors who are members of Mills-Peninsula Medical Group. All work collaboratively to help meet San Mateo County’s current and future health care needs.
Today, PMC includes 87 family medicine doctors, internal medicine doctors, pediatricians and cardiologists. Our plan is to expand our practice to more than 200 doctors within the next decade.
Many of our doctors’ offices are located in PAMF’s Burlingame Center, right next to Mills-Peninsula Medical Center at 1501 Trousdale Drive. This location offers exciting opportunities to optimize care coordination with our non-profit community hospital.
We are excited to be able to offer patients in San Mateo County access to care that is coordinated across a comprehensive and efficient network of doctors who work in both outpatient and acute care settings.
Working with PAMF and doctors with the Mills-Peninsula Medical Group, we are committed to building a patient-centered care delivery arrangement that:
- Offers patients in San Mateo County access to care that is seamless, contemporary, and coordinated across a comprehensive and efficient network of primary care doctors and specialists
- Enhances the recruitment and retention of doctors in the region, especially in the adult primary care specialties
- Offers patient and doctors a uniform electronic health record to further enhance quality outcomes, continuity of care and clinical integration
- Provides doctors and patients with access to better infrastructure, including state-of-the-art clinics and diagnostic capabilities
With PAMF, we are creating a model of health care that ensures a broad base of primary care doctors to serve the San Mateo community for generations to come.
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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.
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