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Palo Alto Medical Foundation Newsroom


Santa Cruz Area Health Services Partner to Expand Primary Care to Low-Income Patients

SH_PAMF_190The Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center (SCWHC), Dignity Health Dominican Hospital (Dominican Hospital, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center (SMSC) and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz (PAMF) announced today an unprecedented partnership that includes an almost $7 million collective investment to prepare our community for the 2014 implementation of healthcare reform through the Affordable Care Act.

Through this partnership, SCWHC will be able to expand needed primary care services to low-income patients, especially children, in Mid-County. This will help meet the anticipated rise in demand for primary care services due to health care reform and the accompanied increase in the number of area residents with health insurance.

smscSCWHC, currently located in downtown Santa Cruz, will be opening a second clinic in Live Oak at the East Cliff Village Shopping Center in 2014.  The new Live Oak clinic will be a family health and pediatrics center offering primary care for women, men, and children.  In addition to adding services for men, the new clinic will enable SCWHC to provide services for 1,600 low-income children currently served by the Dominican Hospital Pediatrics Clinic.

SC womens healthSCWHC has been planning expansion to respond to growing community need and increased demand for primary care resulting from health care reform. In 2006, SCWHC identified Live Oak as an underserved area in need of a clinic. Executive Director Leslie Conner said that linking families with a primary care provider who knows them and their needs is the key to ensuring good health and satisfied patients, while also controlling costs by keeping patients healthy and out of the hospitals. “We’re especially pleased to partner with Dominican Hospital and Sutter so that local residents, regardless of circumstance, can access services in our new state-of-the-art primary care clinic,” said Ms. Conner.

dominicanDominican Hospital has cared for low-income children at its clinic on Frederick Street as part of its Health Outreach since the mid-1990s, and will continue to see patients there until the new SCWHC Live Oak center is ready. Dominican Hospital reached capacity with 1,600 patients at Frederick Street which was not a suitable location long-term due to seismic regulations. Dominican Hospital Pediatrics Clinic Medical Director Salem Magarian, M.D., will join the staff at the new SCWHC clinic.

The careful planning for welcoming pediatric services at SCWHC, along with substantial financial assistance by Dominican Hospital, PAMF and SMSC for the new clinic shows a mutual, continued investment in children’s’ health and will enable SCWHC to grow the pediatrics program. SCWHC estimates that as many as 5,000 children could be provided health services at their Live Oak clinic within the next 10 years.

The partnership between SCWHC, PAMF, SMSC and Dominican Hospital will ensure there are no gaps in care for the local children, according to Dr. Magarian. “With the vision and leadership of program founder Sister Michaela Siplak and community support, we built a quality program at Dominican Hospital that we were all proud of. The Women’s Health Center shares that vision and passion, and their new Live Oak clinic will be the ideal medical home for pediatrics.”

Reinvigorating its commitment to the area’s children, Dominican Hospital has pledged $1.5 million over the next five years to ensure adequate operating support for the SCWHC pediatrics program. Additionally, Dominican Hospital’s parent company, Dignity Health, has provided a low-interest loan of $2.5 million for facility improvements. SCWHC has also secured a federal grant to expand clinic operations.

“This partnership exemplifies the spirit of healthcare reform where collaboration will be essential,” said Nan Mickiewicz, M.D., president, Dominican Hospital.  “Disparate health providers in communities are setting aside old boundaries and discovering the best ways to work together to keep all of us healthy and have the appropriate levels of care nearby when needed.”

PAMF and SMSC, both affiliates of the Sutter Health network, are strong supporters of children’s health and close partners with SCWHC.

“Nothing is more important than keeping our kids healthy and giving them the advantage of a happy, secure childhood,” said Stephen Gray, chief administration officer of SMSC. “What better present can we give our next generation? We’re proud to be a part of the partnership with SCWHC.”

PAMF and SMSC have agreed to support the new SCWHC facility by investing $1.5 million over the course of five years to help with start-up and operation of the new SCWHC clinic, including the pediatrics program.

“With health care reform really hitting its stride in 2014 and more people being covered by health insurance, it will take this kind of innovative collaboration to ensure a solid continuum of care throughout our community.” said Larry DeGhetaldi, M.D, president, PAMF Santa Cruz. “While we have worked closely with, and supported our community clinic partners in the past, this is an opportunity to take things to a whole new level.”

In coming years, SCWHC will be able to provide care for approximately 10,000 patients between the two clinics.  SCWHC is taking this opportunity to launch recruitment efforts for family practice physicians and mid-level providers.  SCWHC offers competitive salaries and the benefit of working in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility with a team of dedicated practitioners and administrators committed to the patient-centered medical home model.

For more information about:

Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center: www.scwomenshealth.org

Dignity Health Dominican Hospital: www.dominicanhospital.org

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: www.pamf.org

Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center: www.suttersantacruz.org