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Sonoma County’s newest VA clinic to expand services to growing veterans population

The new Santa Rosa VA Clinic South is more than double the size of the VA clinic on Brickway Boulevard, which will remain operational.|

Despite a few pandemic-related construction delays, Sonoma County’s newest full-service, outpatient medical clinic — aimed at serving North Coast military veterans — opened last month, on time and as projected.

Dubbed the Santa Rosa VA Clinic South, the nearly 58,000-square-foot facility is more than double the size of the VA clinic on Brickway Boulevard, which opened in 2009 near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

The 13-year-old clinic was double the size of the one it replaced on Chanate Road (which opened 13 years earlier in 1996) in a pattern of growth that is a testament to the growing population of local veterans who require health care services.

“The goal is to really expand additional services to veterans not only within Sonoma County, but for northern areas as well, because we do have veterans that come down from Eureka, Ukiah and Clearlake (VA) clinics to get specialty services,” said Deidre Davis, acting director of ambulatory care for the San Francisco VA Health Care System.

Davis said the Brickway Boulevard clinic, now named the Santa Rosa VA North Clinic, will remain operational and provide mainly home-based primary care services. Together, the two Santa Rosa clinics will serve as the central hub for the VA’s Northern California clinics, increasing internal referrals and decreasing community care in counties to the north.

Services at the new, state-of-the-art clinic include primary care, podiatry, dermatology, vascular; mental health, social work, a dedicated women’s health unit, physical therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture, prosthetics, extensive telemedicine, orthopedics, radiology, a pharmacy and laboratory.

The new clinic is located at 2285 Challenger Way in south west Santa Rosa, near a number of other medical complexes, including Kaiser Permanente medical office on Mercury Way, the St. Joseph Urgent Care center and Sonoma County’s Crisis Stabilization Unit for psychiatric emergencies.

Like many new health care facilities, the Challenger Way clinic was designed to provided integrated health services in a single location. These include mental health, dental, primary care, physical therapy, optometry imaging services.

The very large, semi-partitioned waiting room has a lactation pod, one of two in the clinic. The sides of the pod are decorated with a painting of a blue sky and white clouds.

Multiple hallways branch off a long corridor in the clinic’s main section. Signage indicates the various medical services, such as dental, primary care, behavioral health.

In the middle of the clinic’s primary care section is an open work space where teams of medical professionals work in pods. There are 10 such primary care teams, where a physician or nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, a licensed vocational nurse and a medical scheduler work side-by-side.

“It really enhances the care coordination for the patient,” Davis said, adding that medical professionals at the old clinic were sometimes on different floors.

That kind of coordinated care helps create a more efficient patient flow for a growing veteran population. Currently, the Santa Rosa VA clinic has averaged around 9,150 unique patients per year and 76,500 medical visits with its existing services, Davis said. That population was about 5,000 patients when the Brickway Boulevard clinic opened in 2009.

She said the new alignment of services in Sonoma County will average between 11,000 to 12,000 unique patients during the coming year, with about 105,000 to 115,000 patient visits. Davis said the VA expects the patient population to continue growing until 2026, where it should peak at 13,250 patients and 125,000 visits.

The largest growth in medical services is expected to be in specialty care, mental health, and rehabilitation services, she said. Driving that growth, she added, is a combination of providing services that are now given at the San Francisco VA’s main campus, as well as new patients relocating to the North Bay.

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

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