Bay Area health centers receive stimulus money

December 9, 2009 7:02:28 PM PST
President Obama announced that more than $500 million in stimulus money will be going to repair, rebuild, or replace health centers around the country. A center in Petaluma, along with health departments in Solano, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties will get a generous share.

It's a critical point of care for thousands of West Contra Costa County residents, and now, finally, the Richmond Health Center will be replaced thanks to $12 million from the Obama administration.

"So far, we've allocated nearly $1.4 billion in money to health centers around the country to build and rebuild and hopefully begin hiring new staff this year," said President Obama earlier this week.

The millions devoted to the Richmond center represent the largest recovery act health center award in California. It's money well-spent, according to Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, who traveled to Washington D.C. to accept the grant.

"Obviously we're very please and happy to receive this $12 million. It was an especially competitive process," he said.

The Richmond Center first opened in 1967. It's one of eight community health centers run by the county, but the only one that's never been replaced.

"That building has been falling apart. It's in need of not just repair, but complete rebuilding," said Supervisor Gioia.

In its 42 years, the Richmond Center has provided over one million patient visits. That includes primary and specialty care, preventive medicine and immunizations, among many other services.

About half the clients don't have health insurance.

"We serve all of West County and that encompasses thousands of people. On a mere average, we see about 8,000 patients a month," said Linda Jursa from Richmond.

About half the patients who come to the Richmond Health Center don't have insurance.

The county's plan is to move the Richmond Health Center here, closer to Doctor's Medical Center in San Pablo, so the two facilities can share a variety of patient services.

Construction of the new Richmond Health Center will begin in the next two years.


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