Stanislaus County funds evening, weekend hours at Patterson health clinic for growing city

Stanislaus County supervisors unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday to expand urgent care hours and services at the Del Puerto Health Care District clinic in Patterson.

The agreement between the county Health Services Agency and the Del Puerto district will provide up to $300,000 in funds for additional hours of urgent care every day.

The increased service at the Del Puerto Health Center, at 1700 Keystone Pacific Parkway, suite B, would amount to 100 to 120 hours monthly.

The funds will help cover startup costs and uncompensated care for the first year. The expansion will start Feb. 1 with a “soft opening” of evening hours Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., expanding by the summer to evening service Mondays through Fridays, as well as clinic hours Saturdays and Sundays, said Karin Freese, chief executive officer of the healthcare district.

The Patterson area lacks hospital service and has a shortage of primary care doctors. Residents seeking care at hospital emergency departments in Modesto and Turlock often have medical issues more appropriate for urgent care or an after-hours clinic, a county staff report said.

Care needed beyond ‘business hours,’ supervisor says

County Supervisor Channce Condit has worked with local organizations to assess the health care needs in western Stanislaus County. He noted that hospitals serving Patterson and Newman closed in the 1990s.

“It is something that’s been a top priority of mine since I was elected,” said Condit, whose district includes the area. “Patterson is our fastest-growing city in the county and it’s absolutely critical to continue our efforts to develop quality, accessible health care, and not just within business hours.”

The Del Puerto district will add health care providers for the additional clinic hours through a partnership with Sutter Gould Medical Foundation. Right now, the four-member staff at the Patterson clinic, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, includes a physician and midlevel providers. The district is recruiting for a pediatrician.

Del Puerto also is talking with Sutter about adding X-ray and ultrasound services at the Patterson health center. The proposal includes an option for extending the agreement with the county for one year, but the goal is to make the urgent care services self-sustaining, Freese said.

“One goal is to make the community aware this service is available for all members of the community with Medi-Cal, Medicare and commercial insurance coverage,” Freese said.

She told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that a marketing campaign will make the community aware of the expanded services. Even with a low utilization rate, the services should be self-supporting in the third year, Freese said.

Thousands more patient visits expected with agreement

The Patterson health center handles almost 15,000 patient visits per year and expects an increase to 21,000 annual visits with the county agreement. The district serves an area including Grayson, Westley, Patterson, Diablo Grande and Crows Landing.

About 33% of residents within the health care district boundaries rely on Medi-Cal benefits, while many residents are commuters and workers with health insurance benefits. By comparison, half of Stanislaus County’s population is in the Medi-Cal program for low-income households.

Patterson, with a population nearing 24,000, is projected for substantial growth in the next 10 years, which will create an increasing demand for primary care, maternity services, pediatrics and many other health services.

Condit said the ultimate goal is a hospital serving the West Side communities.