WOODLAND — CommuniCare Health Centers broke ground on a new 21,000-square-foot facility in Woodland on Monday.
Located at Beamer and Cottonwood streets, the new center — expected to open for business in January 2014 — will provide medical, dental, perinatal and other services to low-income and uninsured residents of Woodland and surrounding areas.
Currently, those residents are served by two aging clinics in Woodland — the Peterson Clinic, which is across the street from the new location, and the John H. Jones Clinic on Court Street.
The services of both of those clinics will be consolidated at the new location.
“Our staff has been working very hard in less than optimal conditions for a long time,” said CommuniCare CEO Robin Affrime, who described the existing facilities as “outdated and inefficient.”
“This new health center is essential for us to keep pace with the current and future needs for health care services in the community,” she said. “It provides expanded space for us to increase medical, dental and behavioral health services to serve the increasing number of families and individuals coming in for care.”
The new site will be 45 percent larger than the two current sites combined and is projected to serve 25 percent more patients than the existing clinics serve.
That space will be needed, according to Woodland Mayor Skip Davies, who said half of Woodland’s residents qualify for CommuniCare’s services.
Countywide, 10 percent of residents — 26,514 people — received care at a CommuniCare clinic last year. In addition to the Woodland clinics, Esparto, Davis and West Sacramento are home to CommuniCare facilities as well.
CommuniCare’s ability to expand came courtesy of a $5 million federal grant announced last year. The funding is part of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of community health centers across the country. Many of those centers were established following passage of the Rural Health Act of 1977, which aimed to bring health care to underserved rural areas of the country.
Ironically, it is the nation’s urban areas, said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, that are now home “to the largest underserved populations.”
In addition to Garamendi and Davis, other officials present for the groundbreaking on Monday were Supervisor Duane Chamberlain, in whose 5th District the new CommuniCare facility will be located, and former Supervisor Helen Thomson, a longtime advocate for CommuniCare.
For Affrime, who has been involved with CommuniCare for three decades — going all the way back to its days as the Davis Free Clinic — the groundbreaking was “absolutely thrilling.”
In fact, she said, the sounds of bulldozers and backhoes working on the new site “is music to my ears.”
“It is the best sound in the world. We’ve been working on this for a long time.”
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy