A new health center currently under construction in west Santa Rosa just landed an additional $2 million in state funding to help cover the cost of treating residents displaced next year by the closing of the Sonoma Developmental Center.
Last spring, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers obtained $2.5 million in state funds for building and equipment costs at the new health center at 130 North Dutton Ave. While the clinic, a $10 million construction project, will be specially designed to serve developmentally disabled patients it will be open to all.
The new funds will be used to help cover the added cost of caring for disabled patients, said Laurie Lynn Hogan, a spokeswoman for Santa Rosa Community Health Centers.
“The new funds take into account that on average the cost of providing care for intellectually and developmentally disabled folks is about three times greater than providing care for the general population,” Hogan said.
Like SRCHC’s other sites, the new clinic will be designated as a “federally qualified health center,” which allows it to receive a higher reimbursement from Medicare and Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the Medicaid program. But neither Medicare nor Medi-Cal will kick in more money for disabled patients, Hogan said.
The new clinic, which state officials are calling a health care hub for the disabled, will feature physical therapy and specially designed dental operating rooms to accommodate wheelchairs and gurneys, as well as sedation dentistry, a medical procedure where patients are given sedative drugs to reduce fear and anxiety. The health center will include a clinical and medical director to oversee operations, and will have a higher staffing ratio than other SRCHC clinics.
With the scheduled closure of Sonoma Developmental Center in December 2018, its remaining 255 residents are expected to be transferred to community-based housing in Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties.
That would leave many of them without in-house medical, dental, mental and adaptive services.
“This investment helps launch the health care hub and will help ensure its success for years to come,” said Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg.
McGuire said he will work with the both health center executives and officials at the Department of Developmental Services to evaluate the “funding needs for the next fiscal year.”
Noami Fuchs, the CEO of the health centers, said the total $4.5 million contribution from the Department of Developmental Services would help ensure that people with disabilities receive the care they need for years to come.
The new clinic is expected to serve 8,000 local residents, including 100 patients from the shuttered developmental center and about 1,000 North Bay residents with developmental disabilities. It is expected to open in February 2018.