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San Diego community health center, with immigrant beginnings, expands the dream of healthcare for all

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
La Prensa San Diego

In 1969, a group of immigrant women got together to try to bring quality health care service to the underserved community of San Ysidro.

Their dream was to make health care available to everyone there, no matter if they had health insurance coverage or not. What began as a small goal, became the San Ysidro Health Center, one of the largest community clinic systems in San Diego County.

Today, more than 40 years later, the dream of those women continues to expand with the opening of the King-Chavez Health Center, which will serve residents in southeastern San Diego.

On Friday, September 7, 2012 San Ysidro Health Center will celebrate the grand opening of the new center, located at 950 South Euclid with a Community Open House from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The event will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Congressman Bob Filner, Assemblyman Ben Hueso, County Supervisors Greg Cox and Ron Roberts; Mayor of San Diego Jerry Sanders; and City of San Diego Council President Anthony Young.

“As Supervisor for the First District, which includes Southeastern San Diego, I cannot wait for the opening of the King-Chavez Health Center,” Supervisor Cox said. “In this medical desert where people are without insurance and cannot afford health care, I am pleased to see San Ysidro Health Center expand their services to meet the demand in a way that respects the cultural and linguistic diversity of this community. With medical, dental, mental health, counseling, pediatrics, lab and radiology services under one roof, it is essentially a one-stop shop for the community.”

Funding for the new 25,000 square foot facility was provided through a highly competitive federal program called the Facilities Improvement Program administered by Health and Human Resources Agency (HRSA). This competitive funding program started in 2009 with approximately 600 applications.

After an extensive review process, HRSA awarded only 80 grants to community clinics across the nation. California received only 11 grant awards, and in San Diego County only 2 grants received funding.

San Ysidro Health Center was awarded a $9,754,515 grant for the King-Chavez Health Center.

The three-story state-of-the-art health center will provide the community with comprehensive health services including Family Medicine, Family Counseling, Prenatal Care, A Women’s Health and Well-ness Center, Pediatrics, HIV Services, Health Education, Radiology, Laboratory, and a unique Dental Clinic for Children, Adults and People with Special Needs.

“The King-Chavez Health Center’s primary service goal,” Martinez said, “is to provide a healthcare home to all patients—one that serves as the first point of entry into the healthcare system—while also providing continuity of care over time, as well as emphasizes preventive care and coordinates care across various institutional barriers.”

In recent years, the SYHC has become an example to other community clinic systems throughout the country…

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