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Modesto family physician receives CMA’s prestigious “country doctor” award



October 13, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care 

Modesto family physician Silvia Diego, M.D., was honored today with the California Medical Association’s (CMA) most prestigious award, the Frederick K.M. Plessner Memorial Award. The award, which honors the California physician who best exemplifies the ethics and practice of a rural country practitioner, was announced today at CMA’s annual House of Delegates meeting in Sacramento.

The daughter of farmworker parents, Silvia Diego grew up in the small town of San Joaquin in western Fresno County. She was the first in her family to graduate from college, and went on to get her medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine—one of the top medical schools in the nation.

After graduating from medical school 1994, Dr. Diego completed her residency in Family Medicine at the Stanislaus Medical Center in Modesto, and has remained in Stanislaus County ever since, with a mission of providing care to the poor and uninsured.

“I am really very passionate about taking care of my patients—about helping them get the very best health care that they can,” said Dr. Diego. “What is really important, is to care for your patients with compassion and respect.”

Dr. Diego practiced for 18 years at the nonprofit Golden Valley Health Centers, where for eight years she served as chief medical officer. In that role she oversaw care for 20 primary care clinics and more than 100,000 patients.

Dr. Diego selflessly stood up for her patients when a new management policy sought to increase patient numbers at clinics in response to the wave of Medi-Cal enrollments through the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Diego stood her ground, insisting that doing so meant they would have to compromise the quality of the care they were known in the community for providing. Ultimately, Dr. Diego and Golden Valley Health Centers parted ways after irreconcilable differences over these new policies, which she believed would undermine care for low-income and indigent patients.

Now in private practice at Family First Medical Care, Dr. Diego has maintained her commitment to providing patients with the very best care—with a focus on those most in need. Even though it’s a financial challenge for the practice, 50 percent of her patients are on either Medi-Cal or government-assistance programs.

Dr. Diego has been a member of CMA and the Stanislaus Medical Society (SMS) for more than two decades. She is a past president of SMS and is currently a member of the CMA House of Delegates. This year, she was the first female physician named as Stanislaus Physician of the Year.

Learn more about Dr. Diego in our video profile:

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