The overcast skies couldn’t put a damper on the excitement in the air as the finishing touches were put on the Santa Clarita Health Center at the corner of Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road.
Celebrants gathered under a white tent for short speeches and presentations before going in to the spacious 7,500 square-foot clinic, the newest facility operated by Northeast Valley Health Corporation.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth told the crowd that he and his staff “weren’t going to too many openings” anymore.
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”This clinic shows some of the best things community has to offer with agencies, both private and public, coming together to serve a need,” he said. “When I get back to Sacramento, I can brag about what we’re doing not only in my district, but also in my community.”
Kimberly Wyard, NEVHC CEO, introduced a litany of leaders present for the ribbon cutting, but saved the best for Louis S. Garcia, the founding member of the corporation who started it all in 1973.
“Back then we had one center,” she said (pictured at right with Garcia). “It’s so good to have him here to see his dream of launching the 13th center nearly 40 years later.”
The new federal health programs will bring about many changes in health care delivery systems and Howard Khan, the CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, said that clinics like this one stand ready to handle the increased burden.
”Regardless of whether you like the final form (of healthcare), it will create a greater demand for more access to primary care and the need for more coordinated care. This (clinic) will provide a medical home for those who don’t have one.”
“It’s exciting that in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression that we could get the capital and operating funds to open this in our community,” Wyard said, as people streamed into the gleaming new hallways. “There is no family completely untouched by this financial crisis, everyone has a husband, a child, a sister or brother who has lost their job or is affected by this.”
She said that the facility should be able to handle 10,000 visits by at least 3,000 users over the next three years, especially after the state grants the clinic a full license. Currently, it operates for 20 hours a week as a satellite of the Valencia facility.
Nestled between a church and a preschool in an old record store location, the Santa Clarita Health Center has seven examination rooms, a lab draw area, counseling rooms, a pharmacy dispensary, a mother’s breastfeeding lounge, a classroom and a Women with Infant Children program center.
The center is funded by a lead gift from L.A. Care Health Plan to benefit uninsured and medically underserved residents of Los Angeles County. Other donors include the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-HRSA Capital Improvement Program, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, California Community Foundation and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.
The clinic is located at 18533 Soledad Canyon Road and is open Monday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday from 1 to 9 p.m., Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. For information, call 661 673-8800.