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If not for one fateful encounter, Care Practice might not have ever happened…

Years ago during a shift at an Urgent Care facility, Dr. Blackledge was asked by the staff to come to the lobby to translate for a Spanish speaking gentleman. He wanted to make a partial payment for his past visit when he had fallen off a ladder. He had a stack of payment due notices with charges for acute visit, two x-rays, a splint made, and a pair of crutches totalling $1,600. He was only able to pay half of the bill, or $800 which he handed over in a large stack of $20 dollar bills. Dr. Blackledge noticed the man’s calluses and having been the medical director of an underserved clinic, he realized immediately there had likely been what he would call a “mistake.” He confirmed his suspicion that he was injured working as an undocumented day laborer. Dr. Blackledge folded the bills up and informed him that the person who hired him was the one legally obligated to pay work injuries under California law. He asked him to submit the bill to the employer and told him if anyone calls or threatens him again he should say I told him this and take my card.

Seeing someone with that much integrity holding in one hand a stack of threatening demand letters, while in the other hand a wad of cash equal to 100 hours of his wages was a haunting image that he knew he would never be able to shake. Rather than focus on which players deserved criticism more he decided to take his shot at being part of the solution in the last place he ever expected to make a big move, outside the system as a fee for service doctor. The two groups Care Practice focused on helping from the very beginning were addicts and contractors.