SUPERVISORS SUPPORT PUSH FOR WEST VALLEY CLINIC
SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today supported a proposal by County Supervisor Joe Simitian to bring a Valley Health Center clinic to the De Anza Community College campus in Cupertino. This clinic would not only serve students attending De Anza Community College and other community colleges in the area, but also residents of the West Valley.
“It’s essential that all our residents have access to primary and preventative health care. Otherwise, they wait too long, end up seriously ill, and then find themselves in the emergency room,” said Simitian, who serves as chair of the County’s Health and Hospital Committee. “Having conveniently located, preventative health care takes some of the stress and worry out of visiting a doctor. It allows people to focus on their health, family, work, and school. Healthier people can go to work or school and contribute to the community, instead of being unnecessarily sidelined by illness.”
Currently, there are no County or community clinics located in the West Valley communities of Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga. There are more than 43,000 residents in the area who receive health care coverage through Medi-Cal and more than 40,000 people who receive other public benefits who could benefit from having a County clinic close to where they live or work.
Valley Health Center Sunnyvale, the closest County clinic to the West Valley, is at capacity and sees almost 6,000 residents yearly with a current wait time of 34 days to see a doctor. “A new West Valley clinic could take some of the pressure off the Sunnyvale site, and improve care for the patients it serves,” said Simitian.
Simitian represents the County’s Fifth District, which he notes, “is the only District in the County without a primary care County health clinic.” In fact, every one of the other four Supervisors’ Districts has at least three County clinics and/or hospitals.
While some residents of the West Valley are fortunate enough to have access to quality health care through established providers, there are almost 90,000 people who earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL). While this level of income may be too much to qualify for public health insurance plans like Medi-Cal, it can be difficult to obtain adequate medical care when a family of four is making less than $111,000 in a high-cost area like Santa Clara County.
“Our community offers so much to our residents, yet lots of families still don’t have convenient access to medical services,” said County Supervisor Otto Lee, who serves as vice chair of the County’s Health and Hospital Committee, and who co-authored the proposal with Simitian. “This proposed clinic will help students, working families, seniors and many more get medical services and health care closer to home. Plus, a clinic at De Anza will help alleviate pressure on the County’s Sunnyvale clinic which is currently the facility closest to our West Valley residents.”
The De Anza Community College campus is an ideal location for a County health clinic given its close proximity to Highway 85 and Interstate 280. It is also well served by public transportation, allowing those who are reliant on bus service easy access. A proposed affordable housing project for older adults and the Cupertino Senior Center are also located nearby.
In a letter to the Board expressing support of this endeavor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees President Patrick Ahrens shared, “The health of De Anza College students is paramount to us, and we recognize that the Board of Supervisors is similarly concerned to help meet the health care needs of the West Valley area.”
Simitian credits Aherns with first suggesting the possibility of a clinic on the De Anza site. “As soon as he made the suggestion I thought ‘Of course!’ – then a careful look at the numbers made it clear that it really does make so much sense,” said Simitian.
The timing to explore clinic options on the De Anza Community College campus is ideal given that this year the campus will begin a multiyear redesign. A full-service clinic of up to 30,000 square feet could be incorporated into the redesign, which would allow for a wide range of services, including primary care, specialty care, pharmacy, and other medical services. In addition to providing medical, the clinic could also offer an opportunity for Foothill-De Anza Community College District students studying nursing, dental, pharmacy, radiology, and respiratory therapy to gain essential clinical experience.
“A clinic partnership with De Anza is a smart choice – it’s good for folks in the immediate area, and throughout the County, local students and our future medical professionals,” said Simitian. “A clinic on campus could provide essential medical services and help connect students with other public resources.”
Simitian introduced a previous proposal (in October 2021) directing County administration to report to the Board options for building a North County/West Valley primary care health center in District Five. In response, County administration has identified options for building a primary care clinic in the northern portion of the County. Today’s referral provides the exploration of an option to create an additional clinic in the West Valley.