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Nonprofits will run Stanislaus County health clinics in Ceres, Turlock and Hughson

Ceres Medical Office is pictured on Thursday June 6, 2019 on Whitmore Avenue in Ceres, Calif. Stanislaus County will turn over operation of the clinic to Golden Valley Health Centers.
Ceres Medical Office is pictured on Thursday June 6, 2019 on Whitmore Avenue in Ceres, Calif. Stanislaus County will turn over operation of the clinic to Golden Valley Health Centers. jlee@modbee.com

Stanislaus County will move forward with a consolidation plan for its health clinics that serve the poor.

The county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the plan Tuesday and will outsource operation of the Ceres, Turlock and Hughson health clinics to nonprofit providers before the end of the year. The county assured that none of its seven health clinic locations will close, and no county employee layoffs are anticipated.

Golden Valley Health Centers will take over operation of the county’s Ceres clinic on East Whitmore Avenue. Livingston Community Health will serve patients at the Hughson and Turlock clinics.

About 8,300 patients receive health care at those three county locations.

County officials said patients will have the same doctors, because of proposed contract arrangements between Scenic Faculty Medical Group and the nonprofit providers. Scenic Faculty physicians have historically cared for patients in the county health system.

The county Health Services Agency still will operate the Paradise Medical Office in west Modesto, McHenry Medical Office on Woodrow Avenue and the Family and Pediatric Health Center on Scenic Drive. The county is also keeping the specialty clinic and physical rehabilitation center in the “black glass” building on McHenry Avenue.

County health service employees who work at the Ceres, Turlock and Hughson clinics will relocate and fill vacancies at the Modesto clinics. The county has relied on temporary staffing at health centers due to recent attrition.

County officials said the factors leading to the consolidation included a decline in patients, challenges with recruiting and retaining health care providers, decreases in revenue and increased cost exposure for the general fund.

The county health centers today don’t nearly have the same ability to serve patients. Some 13 years ago, there were 40 full-time health providers for the 80,000 patients using the county clinics, but the county health system had less than 30 physicians and mid-level providers in 2017.

The total number of patients served at county health clinics declined from 43,000 patients in 2012 to 30,000 last year.

Ken Carlson covers county government and health care for The Modesto Bee. His coverage of public health, medicine, consumer health issues and the business of health care has appeared in The Bee for 15 years.
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