FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2015
NEW HEALTHCARE OPTIONS FOR LOW-INCOME PATIENTS IN NORTH COUNTY
San Jose – Santa Clara County has taken a series of steps to expand access to affordable healthcare for low-income residents in the North County. At the request of Supervisor Joe Simitian (see attached), approximately 500 Medi-Cal patients in the North County will now have access to medical care at the Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto (San Mateo County). Additionally, low-income patients will have access to urgent care with the new Express Care program at the Valley Health Center in Sunnyvale. Simitian is also pushing for expanded mental health services in the North County as well.
“Bringing these services to the North County is essential to making sure that everyone has the care they need, when and where they need it,” said Simitian. “Residents in every part of the County should have accessible and affordable healthcare.”
Access to Ravenswood Health Center
Simitian called for Ravenswood to be added to the County’s Medi-Cal provider network earlier this year, recognizing the relatively limited availability of primary and specialty care services for Medi-Cal patients in the North County. By bringing Ravenswood into the network, some 500 North County Medi-Cal patients will have affordable and accessible healthcare in their area, effective immediately.
“The Fifth District is the only supervisorial district without a County health clinic,” Simitian noted, “so it’s important that we take every available opportunity, including working across County boundaries, to make sure our folks get the care they need.”
“Ravenswood Family Health Center has always served low income residents and homeless individuals from Santa Clara County, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to serve Medi-Cal clients from Santa Clara County,” said Luda Buada, CEO of the South Bay Community Health Center. “We so appreciate Supervisor Simitian’s support and advocacy on behalf of the clients who will benefit from this additional access to primary care.”
North County patients will also now have access to urgent care at the Valley Health Center, the County’s health clinic in Sunnyvale, under the new Express Care program. The program is funded with a grant from El Camino Healthcare District, which was recommended by Simitian and approved by the Board of Supervisors.
“When folks have access to urgent care, they can avoid expensive visits to the emergency room. And,” said Simitian, “that means when any of us shows up at the emergency room with a real emergency it won’t be filled up with folks who are better served at Urgent Care. That’s good for all of us.”
The Express Care Clinic will be staffed by two licensed physicians and two licensed nurses, and will be open from 5:00-9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The clinic provides patients with necessary care with no need for an appointment or referral.
“El Camino Healthcare District’s partnership with Valley Health Center Sunnyvale and its Express Care Clinic help ensure that at-risk community members have access to medical services that are nearby and provided in the evenings, “ said Dr. Peter Fung, chair of the El Camino Healthcare District Board of Directors. “This resource addresses the unmet health needs of our community.”
MayView and Mental Health
Still on the “to do” list, Simitian is pushing to renew Primary Care Behavioral Health services (i.e., mental health services) at MayView Community Health Center in Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale. Most patients treated for depression are treated by primary care providers, rather than mental health providers, especially in the North County. By restoring behavioral health services at MayView, Simitian said, patients will have access to the care they need across the County.
“Trying to get folks the care they need here in the North County always takes a push,” said Simitian. “We’re a bit remote from service centers in the center of the County, and there’s often a misperception that our communities are uniformly prosperous.”
Simitian, “is to make sure people of modest means have access to the primary care, specialty care, urgent care, and mental health services they need regardless of their economic circumstances.”