Molina reaches out to serve the underserved

  • By M.L. Dehm HBJ Freelance Writer
  • Wednesday, September 26, 2012 11:23am

EVERETT — In August, Molina Healthcare’s south Everett clinic donated free sports physicals to more than 40 students from Cascade and Mariner high schools. It was just one of the community outreach events from the health provider that serves financially vulnerable individuals and families.

“Molina is very much a mission-driven company,” said Greg Smith, director of community outreach for Molina Healthcare of Washington. “Our outreach efforts are really focused around being a resource in the community and making sure that we advocate on behalf of those underserved families.”

Molina Healthcare was founded on these principles in 1980. Dr. C. David Molina, a Long Beach, Calif., emergency room physician, noticed that he was treating a large number of patients for colds or sore throats in the emergency room.

Molina discovered that very few emergency room patients had primary care physicians. More disturbingly, he discovered that many of these patients had been turned away by providers because simply they were on Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid.

Molina opened three clinics in the Long Beach area specifically to offer primary care to the uninsured, non-English speakers and the poor. Demand was great and expansion followed.

“In 1989, I met up with Dr. Molina and together we opened another 20-plus clinics in Southern California and Northern California,” said Gloria Calderon, vice president of clinic operations for Molina Medical Group. “Again, always serving that underserved Medi-Cal population.”

Molina Healthcare’s success drew interest from health plans in Washington state that saw similar health access issues with financially vulnerable groups. Molina identified south Everett as an area where services were needed and it opened a clinic on Everett Mall Way.

“It’s going on two years now,” Calderon said. “We have close onto 3,000 members, Medicaid members, in that clinic.”

Calderon is pleased with what Molina Healthcare has been able to do for the people in and around Everett, and not just in the clinics. Smith, who is responsible for all community outreach events throughout Washington, takes the company’s mission into the community.

“We’ve been working very closely with the schools and organizations in Everett to provide that type of access and those resources that those families need,” he said.

This included the free sports physicals. By Smith’s estimate, 60 to 70 percent of the students who took advantage of the program had no medical insurance or were on Medicaid plans. Without physicals, they couldn’t participate in school sports programs.

For two years, Molina Healthcare has teamed up with Sgt. Manny Garcia and the Everett Police Department to host the Casino Road Futbol Academy, a soccer camp for hundreds of children, many of them from low-income homes in the Casino Road neighborhood of Everett. Local Molina employees also have volunteered and donated school supplies as part of the Everett Public Schools Foundation’s Stuff the Bus campaign.

Molina’s support programs reach beyond students and schools.

Dr. Roland Feltner from the Everett Molina clinic took part in the Verdant Health Commission’s Six Weeks to a Healthier You program for Snohomish County residents. He co-presented a program that focused on overall health, stress management, nutrition, exercise, healthy cooking and family support.

On Oct. 20, the south Everett Molina Medical Clinic will offer free flu shots to local residents with about 300 doses available.

Also planned is a Community Champions Awards event in Lynnwood on Oct. 25. Molina Healthcare will recognize six unsung community heroes and give each a $1,000 grant to donate to the organization of their choice.

“We want to make sure people are aware about being proactive about their health,” Smith said.

Molina Healthcare offers plans in nine states and has clinics in California, Washington, New Mexico, Florida and Virginia. Its members are served by a local provider network. For information, go to