Kaiser Permanente is providing critical support to a nonprofit urgent care center that’s helping to fill a gap in services left after the closing of Doctor’s Medical Center in San Pablo.
Doctor’s was a public hospital that primarily served low-income and uninsured patients. It struggled financially for years before shutting down in April. An analysis of walk-in traffic to the hospital’s Emergency Department before it closed found that 80 percent of patients did not have a life-threatening condition, and instead needed primary or urgent care.
On April 20, the day before the hospital closing, nonprofit LifeLong Medical Care opened new urgent care services directly across the street. Kaiser Permanente was one of a number of organizations, both public and private, that helped LifeLong add the services in just 45 days. LifeLong is a Federally Qualified Health Center, which runs health centers in three Bay Area counties.
Kaiser Permanente Provides Funding and Expertise
Kaiser Permanente provided more than $2 million to remodel the health center so it could be used for urgent care services, including radiology. In addition to grant funding, Kaiser Permanente’s National Facility Services (NFS) provided LifeLong technical assistance with the remodeling of the building.
“Kaiser brought in experts in radiology, lab services, and urgent care operations,” said LifeLong Chief Administrative Officer D.L. Poole. “We worked as a team to design a layout that would provide the highest quality care in the most efficient way.”
Kaiser Permanente also donated a long list of furniture and medical equipment from its former Hayward hospital and Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Communications helped develop a communications strategy and materials to help residents learn of the new service.
Working Together to Keep the County Healthy
For now, the clinic is open seven days a week from noon to 8 p.m. At a press conference in June to announce an additional $2 million in state funding that will sustain services and allow for expanded hours, Kaiser Permanente East Bay Area Manager Odette Bolano applauded the coming together of the community to help meet the health needs of the area.
“When business, government, nonprofits, and individuals work together, we can keep West Contra Costa County healthy and thriving,” Bolano said. “Making sure people in the community have access to high-quality health care has always been a high priority for us.”
Hollis Harris, vice president, Kaiser Permanente NFS Northern California Service Delivery, said her team will also provide technical assistance to help LifeLong further expand its space later this year, in order to serve more patients.
“This is our way of giving back and supporting the Kaiser Permanente mission to improve the health of the communities we serve.”
Doing Well for a Startup
Many of the staff members at the new urgent care were Emergency Department staff at the now-closed hospital, including Desmond Carson, MD, the center’s assistant medical director.
He said the Emergency Department at Doctor’s Medical Center was seeing an average of 100 patients a day who did not require emergency care. On weekdays, the urgent care is seeing about half that number, which suggests there’s still a need to educate the community about the new service. Dr. Carson added that he thought the center was doing well for a startup, and that patient volume will increase over time.
“The fact that this facility was created in such a short period of time and that people in this area have access to care, that’s what I’ve been amazed by,” he said. “The hospital’s closing was a huge loss, but it’s a beautiful thing for me to still provide care to the community I was raised in.”