Seven organizations affiliated with the Council of Community Clinics (www.sd-ccc.org) in San Diego, Imperial, and Riverside counties received a combined total of more than $18.6 million from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Affordable Care Act. Grants will help the clinics build and expand health centers, create jobs, and expand access to an additional 30,000 patients per year. The funding, which totals more than $728 million nationwide, are part of a series of capital investments that are made available to community health centers under the Affordable Care Act, which provides $9.5 billion to expand services over five years and $1.5 billion to support major construction and renovation projects at community health centers.
According to Gary Rotto, Director of Health Policy and Strategic Communications for the Council of Community Clinics, since the beginning of 2009, employment at community health centers nationwide has increased by 15 percent. “This is true of San Diego as well, where the number of low income families has increased dramatically with the economic slowdown,” said Rotto. “Through the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery Act,” he added, “community health centers in San Diego, Imperial, and Riverside counties will serve thousands of additional people over the next few years.”
The Affordable Care Act awards came from two capital programs for community health centers. One will provide approximately $629 million to 171 existing health centers across the country for longer-term projects to expand their facilities, improve existing services, and serve more patients. In San Diego, the four clinics that benefitted from the first part of this Act include Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo ($2,545,278); Mountain Health and Community Services ($5,000,000); Neighborhood Healthcare ($3,219,386); and North County Health Services ($5,000,000). The second set of awards will provide approximately $99.3 million to 227 existing health centers to address pressing facility and equipment needs. In San Diego, these include Borrego Community Health Foundation ($500,000); Clinicas De Salud del Pueblo ($358,590); Mountain Health and Community Services ($499,999); Imperial Beach Community Clinic ($500,000); San Diego Family Care ($499,871); and North County Health Services ($500,000). The Act will account for about 100 additional construction jobs and about 120 new health-care related positions at the clinics.
“For many in our community,” said Judy Shaplin, President and CEO of Mountain Health and Community Services, “community clinics are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment of chronic diseases. This investment will expand our ability to provide high-quality care to millions of people while supporting good paying jobs in communities across the country.” She noted that the $5,000,000 Mountain Health and Community Services receives from the Affordable Care Act will be used to replace, relocate, expand, and diversify its Mountain Empire Family Medicine site.
“This clinic is the sole safety net provider point across hundreds of square miles in the southeast rural area of San Diego County,” she said. “The current structure is a small aging structure with four exam rooms, one mental health treatment room, and modes reception/waiting, lab, medical records and clinic management spaces.”
At Clinicas de Salud,” said the clinic’s CEO Yvonne Bell, “We expect to increase our medical staff by 12, with an additional four additions to our ancillary clinic staff. In addition, we will expand our existing clinic space by 25 percent, renovate another 4,000 square feet.”
Rotto added, “President Obama’s health care law is helping community health centers in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties to respond to the essential healthcare needs of these communities. For many people in our community, these health centers are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment of chronic diseases.”
The Council of Community Clinics provides centralized support services to 16 member community clinic and health center organizations operating nearly 100 sites in San Diego, Imperial, and Riverside Counties. The mission of the CCC is to represent and support community clinics and health centers in their efforts to provide access to quality health care and related services for the diverse communities they serve with an emphasis on low-income and uninsured populations. Over 672,000 individuals count on the CCC members for their primary care needs through almost 2 million annual health care encounters.