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News: 08/01/2017

More money added to Santa Rosa treatment center

An additional $2 million will augment the initial $2.5 million fund for a proposed new health care center in Santa Rosa specifically designed to serve the developmentally disabled now served by the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, which is slated to close at the end of 2018, and the North Bay Regional Center that coordinates care for all other SDC clients of the California Department of Developmental Services.

The new health center is being created to provide “high quality medical, dental, and mental health care, as well as adaptive services,” according to State Senator Mike McGuire’s office. “This investment will develop specialized services and unique exam rooms outfitted with the latest adaptive equipment to meet the unique health care needs of individuals who have a developmental disability.” McGuire has been highly proactive overseeing the shutdown process and seeing that patients are moved safely to appropriate new settings.

“Santa Rosa Community Health will offer specialty health care services to some of the most medically fragile patients in the state, close to home, here in the North Bay,” McGuire said. It will also serve disabled clients of the North Bay Regional Center as well as the general population.

Santa Rosa Community Health Centers was a natural selection since the group already operates nine health centers with over 500 employees serving 50,000 people a year, according to Naomi Fuchs, executive director.

“This was very fortuitous,” Fuchs said. “We were planning on building a new clinic, and when the need came up for a specialized clinic it seemed appropriate for us to be the site for those services. We have a lot of experience.”

Renovating the 23,000 square-foot building at 1300 North Dutton is already underway and is expected to cost $11 million. The state will fund $2.5 million toward the physical renovation, and provide another $2 million to augment employee expenses for the first years.

“It takes about three times longer to take care of people with disabilities,” Fuchs said. “Provision of care will be more costly and is not reimbursed by the state, but this will cover the startup.”

The new health center expects to serve about 7,000 people a year with a staff of 90 dentists, physicians, nurses and other health care workers, although staffing requirements haven’t been fully worked out. Fuchs expects about 1,000 of the clients will be from the developmentally disabled population.

Special services, such as wheelchairs, shoes and prosthetic devices, will not be produced at the center, but they will be able to make connections between patients and services when needed.

The Dutton Campus is expected to open its doors in February 2018.

Closure of the state’s two remaining Developmental Centers at Sonoma and Fairview in Newport Beach, along with the general population portion of Porterville, has brought about intense scrutiny from patient advocates, parent groups, and others concerned that the extremely medically and behaviorally challenged residents remaining at these institutions will not be able to find equivalent levels of care in the private sector.

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