In December 2018, San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved plans to reduce new hepatitis C (HCV) infections by 80% and deaths by 65% by the year 2030. Family Health Centers of San Diego’s (FHCSD) Dr. Christian Ramers is at the forefront of this effort.
Dr. Ramers serves as the Assistant Medical Director for Research and Special Populations and Director of Graduate Medical Education at FHCSD. He is also a Senior Clinical Advisor for the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s Global Hepatitis Program. He leads several clinical and educational programs supporting HIV and hepatitis C treatment within our clinics and has been recognized as a California Hepatitis Alliance Clinical Champion for his leadership in addressing viral hepatitis.
Dr. Ramers has been instrumental in developing FHCSD’s comprehensive HCV treatment and research program and in developing a cutting-edge training and mentorship program for primary care providers in San Diego and across the Western United States.
“In order to eliminate hepatitis C, we will need to increase prevention efforts, expand testing in clinics and other settings and provide access to treatment across primary care settings,” said Dr. Ramers.
In a pilot conducted in seven FHCSD clinics by 12 providers, clinical staff found they were able to double the capacity for treatment of HCV-infected patients with an infectious disease specialist overseeing a group of primary care providers through a telehealth model. An efficient referral process was supported by partnerships with a transplant hepatologist and a local GI group. Implementing this model greatly improved access to treatment for vulnerable populations.
FHCSD is also uniquely situated to reach overlooked groups and is the largest treater by volume in San Diego County. FHCSD’s HCV treatment program has looked at the injection drug use habits of patients enrolled in the program. Studies such as this give practitioners a better understanding of how to reach and treat this population and prevent further spread of the disease.