Rural Health Clinic is a first for Sierra View Medical Center and first services offered outside of the Porterville city limits
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
STRATHMORE – After going decades without so much as a doctor’s office, Strathmore may have two new health clinics by the end of next year.
Sierra View Local Health Care District, the public entity overseeing Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville, has purchased a 2.5-acre lot on the northeast corner of Highway 65 and Avenue 196 in Strathmore to build its first Rural Health Clinic. The proposed 110,000 square feet clinic will either be built with six or nine exam rooms and provide a variety of services to the unincorporated community, an underserved area that is already within the hospital district’s boundaries.
Ron Wheaton, VP of Physician Recruitment and Professional Services for SVMC, said having a clinic will offer community members an alternative to the ER in Porterville, which creates a cost for Strathmore residents to travel and a cost to provide treatment at the most expensive entry point. The clinic will also mark the first time that SVMC will offer health care outside of the Porterville city limits.
“We think this is really a great area,” Wheaton said. “With real estate, it’s always going to come down to location, location, location. There’s always the service line that you’re interested in, but it’s where best to locate that service at.”
Although it is located along the highway at the community’s western edge, the location is across the street from two cultural hubs – Strathmore High School and The Orange Works Café. The clinic is still in the planning stages and is expected to open in 2019.
CEO and Strathmore native Donna Hefner said she was excited about the opportunity to provide health care and see growth in the community she grew up in.
“We want to be the premier health provider for a community in our health care district that is underserved and has a significant need for quality health services,” Hefner said. “With Sierra View as the first provider in Strathmore, it will be a great advancement to increase the community’s access to health care.”
There is no doubt that Strathmore will have vastly improved health care in the next two years as Family HealthCare Network (FHCN) has plans to open a clinic of its own this year.
Last year, the Sun-Gazette reported that FHCN had purchased the property at 22817 Avenue 196 in Strathmore, formerly the Stark Packing Corporation, in the summer of 2016. CEO Kerry Hydash said the 5,600-square foot building will be remodeled to include six exam rooms and administrative offices. The federally qualified health center will offer primarily family medicine services but also lab services, community health workshops and health education. The clinic is expected to open near the end of next month with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It is exciting for Family HealthCare Network to be the first health care provider to provide services to those in need in Strathmore and the surrounding areas,” Hydash said in an email this week.
Hours of operation have yet to be determined at the future site in Strathmore. FHCN will be offering free door-to-door transportation to the clinic for residents living in Strathmore, Plainview, Lindsay and surrounding areas. FHCN has 14 shuttles that provide dial-a-ride like service for patients who do not have their own transportation to the nearest clinic.
Hydash said FHCN is already serving about half of the low-income population of Strathmore and about a third of its total population at its Porterville campus. For services not offered at the Strathmore health center, FHCN will provide transportation to Porterville for patients in need of additional or more specialized care.
Eight of FHCN’s 19 medical clinics are located in unincorporated areas, including Cutler-Orosi, Ivanhoe, Goshen, Pixley, Springville, Terra Bella, Three Rivers and Traver. For more information on clinics near you, call 877-960-3426 (FHCN) or visit www.fhcn.org.