Dr. Chua, Chief Medical Officer
Davis Health System – Broaddus, Davis Medical Center, and Webster Hospital
Getting Started Rural Health
I graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2001 and then did my residency in Family Practice in Clarksburg, WV, graduating in 2004. From there, I went into private practice with my husband. Over the years, we focused on preventative care, and in fact, our practice was one of two private practices in the entire state to win the Humana Gold award for excellence in primary care for a couple of years in a row. Eventually, private practice gave way to employed practice with Davis Health System. Once here, in recognition of my commitment to preventative care, I was asked to become the “physician champion” of a new ACO venture. The hospital sent me for education and training, and that job evolved into my role as CMO for the organization. My focus is still on preventative medicine, but now focuses much more on population health and the social determinants of health.
Patient Care and Administrative Responsibilities
Many of my patients have asked me over the years why I do this job instead of concentrating 100% on clinic again. As much as I miss being in clinic (I am currently 3 days administration and two days clinic), I absolutely love my administrative job because I feel like I can use this position to lend the voice of the patients and providers to the people making healthcare decisions in our community. By having a physician who sees patients at the table, administration is able to really get a feel for what our community experiences with our facilities, and it gives us an opportunity to serve them better. That is an amazing feeling.
Influence and Inspiration From the Start
As a clinician, Dr. Todd Corder – a DO who lived in Elkins until his tragic passing several years ago – was my most influential mentor. Todd was a true caretaker for his patients. He knew everything about them – where they lived, how many children they had, what they did for a living, who their parents were – everything! He always took plenty of time with his patients, and he was a stickler for prevention. He was what I would consider the quintessential family doc, and I am never as proud as when patients who used to see him compare me to him. As a leader/executive, our current CEO, Vance Jackson is my mentor. Vance is a visionary who truly believes that we can do better for the patients and the community. He is driven toward population health and addressing social determinants of health, and he is committed to thinking outside of the box to improve the overall health of our community.
The Biggest Challenge of COVID
So many challenges. So much devastation. If I have to be honest, I think that the toll that the political climate, distrust of and distaste for the medical establishment, and overall cornucopia of misinformation has had on our medical staff is probably the BIGGEST challenge. People go into medicine because they are compassionate and caring. The way that this has played out has made us into a defensive exhausted workforce whose compassion is waning. It is very difficult to reconcile what we are feeling with why we decided to devote our lives to this practice.
Patient Impact of Reassigned Health Clinicians During the Pandemic
This has absolutely been a major problem. My husband is a hospitalist, and we were just having this conversation last night. We were talking about how the numbers are starting to drop, and his comment was, “yes, and all the ones that we used to see often are dead.” He is right. Our population health team and efforts did so much to keep the really sick people out of the hospital and healthier. When those nurses were pulled to do other, more acute jobs, that stability for those patients went away. In addition, people were afraid to come to the doctor for problems, and we saw SO MANY “excess deaths” due to that. We have seen many people come in with days of symptoms that could have been intercepted and treated, people with advanced cancers because they were not screened, and the list goes on. I had a patient with known heart disease that passed away at home because he had symptoms but was afraid to come to the hospital due to COVID. Our population health team, to whom he normally would have been able to reach out to ask the questions that he needed answered, were not there. He stayed home and died of a heart attack two days after his symptoms first presented. Another patient is now in a nursing home because his weekly check in with chronic care management was helping him to keep his medications organized. He would check in each week and they would go over every medication. When she was not there to help him, he took the wrong medications, had two falls, and could not continue to live at home. We finally realized as an organization that population health is just as essential as any other patient facing body in our team, and we will not be pulling them again if that situation ever presents itself. What they do to help our patients stay well is not replicable with any other approach.
A Diverse Background and Expertise
I also have a fellowship in functional and nutritional medicine, I am a Certified Physician Executive, have attended a population health fellowship through the AMGA/AHA and have completed the Intermountain Advanced Training Program in Quality. In addition, I am currently enrolled in a Master of Population Health program through Jefferson University, the previous home of David Nash, MD, MBA – one of the more well-known population health researchers. I also was the recipient of the Caravan Health ACO Population Health Pioneer Award for Outstanding Physician Leadership, the Hometown Hero award for COVID leadership, and as of next Tuesday (official release date), was elected to the WV Executive Magazine Health Care Hall of Fame for 2021.
The Compliance Team Experience
The Compliance Team has been so helpful in getting our PCMH up and running and helping us along the way. They truly work with us as a team, and it has been a real pleasure being a part of the organization. We have worked with TCT for the last 2 years.
Personal Insights – Down on the Farm!
I have two lovely, intelligent, talented kids – Emma is 21 and a Junior in the Honor’s College at WVU majoring in public health and animal nutrition science. Lee is 17, graduating from Elkins High this year in the top 10% of his class, and attending WVU in the Honors College in the fall. He will major in biology. I am married to my college beau and we are both primary care physicians. He also works here at the organization. We live on a 99-acre hobby farm. We raise chickens and pigs and have a smattering of equines and goats. We have two chocolate labs, Brisket and Charlie, and a couple of ornery cats. For fun, we love to travel, eat, and go fishing in saltwater anywhere.