BY: Tracy Hinson
Santa Cruz, CALIF.- The Santa Cruz Women's Health Center, Dignity Health Dominican Hospital, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz are partnering to spend $7 million to get the community ready for healthcare reform, says the organizations. According to the organizations, the collective investment is to prepare for the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The organizations say that through the partnership, the Santa Cruz Women's Health Care Center will be able to expand primary care services to low income patients. The Women's Health Care Center says the expansion will especially help children in Mid-County.
According to the organizations, the partnership will help heath care providers meet the anticipated rise in demand for primary care services and increase in number of residents with health insurance. The organizations say the increases in care demand and insurance will be a result of health care reform.
The Santa Cruz Women's Health Center is currently located in downtown Santa Cruz, but will soon be opening a second clinic in Live Oak at the East Cliff Village Shopping Center in 2014, says the organization. The Center says the Live Oak clinic will be a family health and pediatrics center offering primary care for men, women and children. The new clinic will also provide service for 1,600 low-income children currently served by the Dominican Hospital Pediatrics Clinic, says the Center.
According to the Center, the Live Oak area was identified as an underserved area in need of a clinic. The center said they have been planning expansion and in 2006 Live Oak was chosen. The Center's Executive Director Leslie Conner said that connecting families with a primary care provider who knows and understands them is important to having healhy, satisfied patients.
"We're especially pleased to partner with Dominican Hospital and Sutter so that local residents, regardless of circumstance, can access services in our new state-of-the- art primary care clinic," said Connor.
The organizations explain that Dominican Hospital has cared for low-income children at it's Frederick Street clinic since the mid-1990s. Dominican Hospital says its low-income child health care is part of their Health Outreach program. Dominican says it will continue to see patients there until the new Santa Cruz Women's Health Care Center in Live Oak is complete.
Dominican says it reached a 1,600 patient capacity at its Frederick Street location, making it an unsuitable long-term location due to seismic regulations.
Dr. Salem Magarian, the Medical Director of Dominican Hospital Pediatrics, will be joining the new Santa Cruz Women's Health Care Center Staff at Live Oak.
The new clinic and pediatric services at the Women's Health Care Center show the financial investment in children's health from Dominican Hospital, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center. The Center says they estimate that as many as 5,000 children could recieve health services at the Live Oak clinic within the next 10 years.
According to Dr. Magarian, the partnership between Santa Cruz Women's Health Center, Dignity Health Dominican Hospital, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz will make sure there are no gaps in care for the lcal children.
"With the vision and leadership of program founder Sister Michaela Siplak and sommunity support, we built a quality program at Dominican Hospital that we are all proud of. The Women's Health Center shares that vision and passion, and their new Live Oak Clinic will be the ideal medical home for pediatrics," says Dr. Magarian.
Dominican Hospital says they have pledged $1.5 million over the next five years to make sure the Women's Health Center has adequate support for the pediatrics program. In addtion to the $1.5 million, Dominican says their parent company Dignity Health has provided a low interest loan of $2.5 million for facility improvements. The Women's Health Center has also secured a federal grant to expand clinic operations.
Dr. Nan Mickiewicz, President of Dominican Hospital says,"This partnership exemplifies the spirit of healthcare reform where collaboration will be essential. Disparate health providers in communities are setting aside old boundaries and discovering the best ways to work together to keep all of us healthy and have the appropriate levels of care nearby when needed."
Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center, both affiliates of the Sutter Health network, say they are strong supporters of children's health and partners with the Women's Health Center.
Stephen Gray, the chief administration officer of Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center, says "Nothing is more important than keeping our kids healhy and giving them the advantage of a happy, secure childhood. What better present can we give our next generation? We're proud to be a part of the partnership with the Santa Cruz Women's Health Center."
Palo Alto Medical and Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center say that have agreed to supoort the new Women's Health Center by investing $1.5 million over the course of five years to help the start-up and operation of the new Live Oak clinic.
"With health care reform really hitting its stride in 2014 and more people being covered by health insurance, it will take this kind of innovative collaboration to ensure a solid continuum of care throughout our community." said Dr. Larry DeGhetaldi, president of Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz, "While we have worked closely with, and supported our community clinic partners in the past, this is an opportunity to take things to a whole new level."
The organizations say that in coming years, the Women's Health Center will be able to provide care for about 10,000 patients between the two clinics. The Women's Center says it is launching recruitment efforts for family practice physicians and mid-level providers. According to the Women's Center it provides competitive salaries and the benefit of working in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility with a team of dedicated practicioners and administrators committed to patient care.