Mills Matheson, MD,
Baechtel Creek Clinic, Willits
Dr. Mills Matheson was born in Boston into a working-class family of immigrants. He attended Harvard University, after which he did medical research for two years. He went on to Stanford Medical School, but the political upheavals of the time distracted him from a career in research.
In 1968, while working for the Student Health Organization project to improve health care in the San Joaquin Valley, he met Suzanne Couture, who had started a free clinic for migrant workers. They have been partners for 51 years. In 1969 he interned at the Health Policy Advisory Center where he contributed to their book, “The American Health Empire: Power, Profits and Politics.” This experience convinced him that to improve health care, he should find an underserved community and start a clinic.
In 1974 Dr. Matheson came to Willits with a back-to-the-land commune to start a clinic. The local bank refused to finance the building and the city revoked the permit to practice medicine from the temporary trailer, but they persevered. He has practiced at Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic for 45 years, trying to make as few mistakes as possible. He is proud of the independent clinic, which for the last four years has been ranked one of the top ten clinics in Northern California by the Partnership Health Plan Quality Program and is the #1 rated clinic in Mendocino county.