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Sonoma Valley clinic meets fundraising goal for new headquarters

  • Family Nurse Practitioner Lea Durante listens to Manuel Arjona describe his symptoms in the small exam room at the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. The facility is cramped with equipment and patients and is planning to move into a new building. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

The Sonoma Valley Community Health Center has raised enough money to close escrow on an 18,000-square-foot property on Highway 12, where it plans to build a new clinic.

The new larger facility will allow the clinic to meet existing demand and tackle the surge in new patients expected after full implementation of President Obama's health care law next year.

“It feels good. It will feel better once we actually have the deed in our pocket,” said Marc Schwager, a member of the Sonoma Valley Health Center board of directors.

Escrow was supposed to close on Sept. 20, but that deadline was extended at the last minute in order to complete some additional work required for the site, Schwager said.

“This has been an eight year project, and it feels absolutely amazing to be within seven months of getting our new health center for Sonoma Valley,” he said.

The expansion comes at a critical time.

As part of Obamacare, the federal government is expanding both eligibility and services for its low-income Medicaid insurance program, known in California as Medi-Cal.

County health officials have said that some 18,000 local residents could become eligible for health insurance through the expansion of Medi-Cal. Most new members will be seen at local health centers.

In mid-July, the health center entered into a purchase agreement to buy the building at 19270 Sonoma Highway, across from Maxwell Village shopping center. Since then, the health center has embarked on a campaign to raise the $500,000 needed to leverage $5 million in federal funding and $5 million in local financing.

The federal funds can only be used for constructing and equipping the clinic. The project's total cost is expected to be $12 million, with about $1 million going to cover fees, permits, financing charges and closing costs.

The clinic will greatly expand medical services beyond those provided at the health center's existing 8,000-square-foot clinic at 430 W. Napa St. New services will include much-needed exam rooms for specialty services and a six-chair dental clinic.

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