The Sonoma Valley Community Health Center has raised enough money to close escrow on an 18,000-square-foot property on Highway 12, where it plans to build a new clinic.
The new larger facility will allow the clinic to meet existing demand and tackle the surge in new patients expected after full implementation of President Obama's health care law next year.
"It feels good. It will feel better once we actually have the deed in our pocket," said Marc Schwager, a member of the Sonoma Valley Health Center board of directors.
Escrow was supposed to close on Sept. 20, but that deadline was extended at the last minute in order to complete some additional work required for the site, Schwager said.
"This has been an eight year project, and it feels absolutely amazing to be within seven months of getting our new health center for Sonoma Valley," he said.
The expansion comes at a critical time.
As part of Obamacare, the federal government is expanding both eligibility and services for its low-income Medicaid insurance program, known in California as Medi-Cal.
County health officials have said that some 18,000 local residents could become eligible for health insurance through the expansion of Medi-Cal. Most new members will be seen at local health centers.
In mid-July, the health center entered into a purchase agreement to buy the building at 19270 Sonoma Highway, across from Maxwell Village shopping center. Since then, the health center has embarked on a campaign to raise the $500,000 needed to leverage $5 million in federal funding and $5 million in local financing.
The federal funds can only be used for constructing and equipping the clinic. The project's total cost is expected to be $12 million, with about $1 million going to cover fees, permits, financing charges and closing costs.
The clinic will greatly expand medical services beyond those provided at the health center's existing 8,000-square-foot clinic at 430 W. Napa St. New services will include much-needed exam rooms for specialty services and a six-chair dental clinic.
The deal likely would not have been possible without help from the county. Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors approved $200,000 in financial support so that the health center could purchase the property.
The supervisors also approved $150,000 for the Petaluma Health Center to establish school-based clinics at Casa Grande and San Antonio high schools. Another $100,000 was aimed at the West County Health Centers to renovate the Forestville Wellness Center, among other things.
In an earlier round of clinic funding, the supervisors invested $1 million in services and capital expansions at Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, Alliance Medical Center in Windsor, Alexander Valley Healthcare in Cloverdale and La Luz Center in Sonoma.
Schwager said that after all the paperwork is signed for the purchase, the Sonoma Valley Health Center will get on a fast track to build the new clinic and have it open by next spring.
"We're still scheduled to open in April 2014," he said.
(You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or email@example.com.)