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New Santa Rosa Community Health Centers clinic to care for developmentally disabled

Santa Rosa Community Health Centers has landed a $2.5 million contract to provide specialized services to Sonoma Developmental Center residents affected by the facility’s planned closure.

The bulk of the funds will be used to purchase property in west Santa Rosa where SRCHC plans to build a new community clinic. That clinic, a $10 million project, will be specially designed to serve patients who are developmentally disabled but will be open to all.

“It will have large exam rooms, larger doorways and hallways and a quiet waiting room for people who have high sensitivity to noise,” said Naomi Fuchs, SRCHC’s chief executive officer.

With the scheduled closure of Sonoma Developmental Center in 2018, its remaining 350 residents will 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.

The new clinic 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 patient fear and anxiety. The health center will include a qualified clinical director and medical director to oversee operations, and it will have a higher staffing ratio than other SRCHC clinics.

The Eldridge-based developmental center is one of three such facilities operated by the state. The Fairview Developmental Center in Southern California and the non-secure treatment portion of the Porterville Developmental Center are set to close by 2021.

SDC residents are among 9,000 children and adults who receive case management and family support services from the nonprofit North Bay Regional Center, a state contractor.

“Santa Rosa Community Health Center has had a long-standing reputation in our community for providing quality health care services to a diverse population,” said Bob Hamilton, executive director of the North Bay Regional Center.

Staff at the health center will also be given “cultural competency training” to work with the families and caregivers of developmentally disabled patients.

The new health center, SRCHC’s ninth clinic site, will be located at ?1300 North Dutton Ave. in west Santa Rosa, near the organization’s Santa Rosa Community Dental Center at 1110 North Dutton Ave. The new clinic’s proximity to the dental clinic will allow SRCHC to integrate medical, dental and mental health services in one location.

Like SRCHC’s other sites, the new clinic will be designated as a federally qualified health center, which allows it to receive a higher Medicaid reimbursement from the federal government. But it must also serve anyone who walks through its doors.

Fuchs said 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’s going to be our first health center that’s fully integrated with medical, mental health and dental services all in one location,” Fuchs said.

The clinic is expected to be running by December. The $2.5 million grant will cover the cost of renovation and equipment, as well as some start up operating expenses. SRCHC will use about $1 million of its own money and soon launch a $6 million capital campaign to cover the rest of the $10 million project.

Just over 1,000 people reside in the state’s three developmental centers, compared with an estimated 302,000 in community settings by summer 2017.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.

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