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State of Community Dinner: Healthcare Award

Auburn physician awarded

By: Gloria Young, Reporter
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State of the Community Dinner

When: Cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7

Where: The Ridge Golf Course and Events Center, 2020 Golf Course Road, Auburn

Cost: $50 per person

More information and tickets: auburnchamber.net

An Auburn physician who has practiced for more than three decades and in recent years has focused on the underserved is being honored with this year’s Healthcare Award. Dr. Michael Mulligan will receive the award at the State of the Community Dinner on Sept. 7.

“Over the course of Dr. Mulligan’s professional career, which began here in Auburn as a family practitioner, he has seen literally thousands of patients,” Susan Willson, senior development officer at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation, said in an email. “His career began at (Foothill Family Medical Group) in 1987 and his group subsequently affiliated with Sutter Medical Group several years later. At Sutter Medical Group, Dr. Mulligan served as the division chief before taking on a new role at the Placer County Medical Clinic and subsequently at Chapa-de Indian Clinic where he has worked to ensure that the underserved in our communities receive high quality health care. Dr. Mulligan also served as the chief medical officer at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital.”

Mulligan grew up in Colorado and attended medical school in Los Angeles.

“I married a California girl and that’s how I ended up in California,” he said.

They moved to Auburn because “we decided we wanted to be in a place close to skiing and a little more rural to raise the kids,” he said.

The decision to go into medicine was influenced by his role models.

“(Deciding on a career path) was sort of the hardest thing to do into when I was in high school,” he said. “I was one of those guys good at math and science. I knew several doctors in the community and looked up to them. One of my friend’s father was medical doctor and it looked like an amazing career to be able to do.”

After his years with Sutter, Mulligan joined Placer County as the assistant health officer as well as working at the Placer County Medical Clinic. It was during that time he made the decision to move to Chapa-De Indian Health.  

“It came out of nowhere,” he said. “I just suddenly was pulled and I think those things happen to people and we don’t know why. I was being pulled and I decided to follow that feeling. It seemed like the right move to make and in retrospect I am really glad I did. … I just felt there was something more I needed to be doing and I wasn’t sure what it was. I felt I needed to walk through a door. It opened and I walked through it with Placer County. Once I did that, I got a different exposure to a different population and a different type of needs to address. I never expected I would go down that road. Having done so, I am really glad all of that happened. It allowed me to see a broader picture of health care and a broad view of folks and their needs.”

Chapa-De Indian Health began as a clinic to serve Native Americans.

“Over the last several years it has become a community clinic and it remains there to serve Native Americans,” Mulligan said. “But our board approved us to grow and serve the growing Medi-Cal population in the community that happened with the Affordable Care Act.

“We have about 24,000 patients between our Grass Valley and Auburn sites.”

The clinic provides pediatrics, adult medicine and prenatal care. It recently added medication assisted treatment  — MAT — for opiate addiction. There are also behavioral health services with psychologists and psychiatrists, and a comprehensive dental department including orthodontics and optometry.

“My job with Sutter was wonderful,” Mulligan said. “I had a tremendous patient practice with friends and people I know. For reasons I don’t know, I got pulled do to this other thing. It was eye-opening to me to see we had people in the community who had difficulty getting care. It has been a challenge but it has been rewarding to serve the population and to try in my position as medical director to get them the kind of care they deserve.”

Currently Mulligan is serving as the medical director at Chapa-De until the new medical director arrives in October. He will then be the strategic projects director.

Mulligan is moving to part-time to enjoy being a grandfather.

“My other job is babysitting my grandson and I have another grandson on the way,” he said.

His medical career has gone way beyond his expectations.

“I got to practice in a wonderful town and a wonderful place to have our family,” Mulligan said.  “We have a wonderful hospital and medical community. I have great collegial relationships with wonderful physicians and nurses. It is also to be part of a community and then in the middle of my career kind of change course and start taking care of the underserved population. That has also been a great gift for me to develop services for those people.”

Receiving the Healthcare Award is further affirmation from a field he loves.

“Well, I guess I thought I’ve been here a long time for starters and realized I was getting older,” he said about hearing he had received the award. “And it was just pure good fortune to be able to practice in this town and stay here.”