FHCN expands in Tulare, Fresno Counties
Family HealthCare Network merges with San Joaquin Prime Care; will open a new site at Hillman Health Center in Tulare
By Reggie Ellis
TULARE COUNTY – Family HealthCare Network will be opening five new clinics in the next year, four of which will be open in the next two to three months.
President and CEO Kerry Hydash said Family HealthCare Network (FHCN) recently formalized an agreement with San Joaquin Prime Care Medical Corp (SJPC) to take over its health centers in Exeter, Farmersville, Reedley and Squaw Valley. Hydash said FHCN was not actively pursuing the merger with the Exeter-based clinics but was immediately interested in the opportunity when it was presented by SJPC.
“This is an exciting partnership that brings different and new opportunities,” Hydash said. “They have a very robust offering of services.”
Dr. Stefan Pentschev could not be reached for comment.
Pentschev started his private practice in Exeter in 1986. After earning his medical degree in Europe, and practicing for five years as a surgeon in Munich, Germany, he decided to move to California. Pentschev became enamored with the picturesque beauty of Exeter and the town’s warm community and decided to open his own private practice there after completing his residency in San Francisco. Pentschev quickly grow his practice and soon he opened three more offices in Reedley, Squaw Valley, and Farmersville. In 1998, the clinics were incorporated under the name San Joaquin Prime Care Medical Corp. SJPC offers a wide range of patient services including general health, prevention and wellness, immunizations, work/school/travel exams, IV therapy, chiropratic care, chronic disease management, family planning, weight management, podiatry and OB/GYN.
“We are extremely passionate about patient access to care,” Hydash said. “This move means patients will have increased access to care so we see this as a good investment.”
All four SJPC locations will become FHCN sites in the coming months and FHCN is already the third largest federally qualified health center (FQHC) in California and the fifth largest in the nation. Hydash said the conversions will begin in mid-September and take four to five weeks to complete. She said FHCN will keep SJPC’s providers and staff.
“They are bringing a tremendous amount of experience and we expect most of them will be joining us,” Hydash said. “We don’t anticipate needing to add any staff.”
Rev. Larry Taylor said he was glad to hear the staff at SJPC would remain the same, including his doctor, Stefan Pentschev. Taylor said he drives from Visalia to the Exeter office for appointments and that his entire family lists Dr. Pentschev as their primary physician.
“He’s a good doctor and a smart man,” Taylor said.
FHCN is also opening another clinic in Tulare. At its July 30 meeting, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement to lease FHCN 16,000 square feet of vacant space at the Hillman Health Center, located at 1062 S. K St. The lease is for just over $18,300 per month and will generate about $220,000 for the first year with a 2% annual rental escalator each additional year. Hydash said they are targeting next summer to open the new facility.
“We already work closely with the county and the county continues to be a great partner,” Hydash said.
Hydash said the Hillman center is strategic because it will provide specialty services such as cardiology, neurology, dermatology, and urology to patients in the Tulare area. Hydash said uninsured residents, a quarter of the population in Tulare County, have huge barriers to access specialty care. That’s why FHCN partners with Adventist Health’s Rural Health Clinic in Hanford to provide their patients with specialty referrals. While Adventist does not currently have a rural health clinic in Tulare County, they now own the Tulare hospital and Hydash said they hope to build on their relationship established in Kings County.
“Finding more specialty care will be a huge benefit to us and our patients,” Hydash said.
Hydash said the Hillman site will be its third clinic in Tulare and its 40th site overall, following the con-version of San Joaquin Prime Care. Hillman is smaller than many of FHCN’s existing health centers throughout Kings and Tulare Counties it adds 21 exam rooms to the network and could play a key role in the overall health care coverage of Tulare County.
“How many people we hire will be based on services offered and future modeling,” Hydash said. “Patient volume is up 22% from last year and we are on track to meet or exceed that this year.”