Terra Bella to get medical clinic
Family Healthcare Network to expand next year
By the middle of next year residents of the community of Terra Bella will be able to find health care in their own town, something that has been absent for decades.
Family Healthcare Network is working with the Terra Bella Unified School District to place a module building on the Terra Bell Elementary School site at 9364 Road 238.
“We plan to move in the spring of 2013,” said FHCN CEO and President Harry Foster.
“The key there is the school board is very excited,” he said, and Terra Bella Unified Superintendent Frank Betry confirmed it.
“It’s a nice addition to the community,” said Betry, adding he has been told Terra Bella once had a local doctor, but that was decades ago.
Terra Bella will become FHCN’s 13th clinic site and one Foster said they have wanted for some time.
“They’ll receive all of the same services you get at any other sites,” he said.
Those include medical, dental, nutritional and behavioral health services.
Betry said the clinic has been needed by the community of approximately 3,500 residents for a long time. Presently, the closest health care is in Porterville. Foster said the clinic will serve all of the southern end of the county.
Betry said the school district has been working with FHCN for about nine months to get the clinic in place. Foster said they will move the module building that was once home to the Goshen clinic to the site after the first of the year. The module became available when FHCN constructed a permanent building there this year. The module is about 3,600 square feet and will have six exam rooms, a couple of provider staff and a physician.
Foster said the Terra Bella clinic will take some of the pressure off of the Porterville site, FHCN’s first location and one busting at the seams. That facility is planned for a $1.5 million renovation, but Foster said the health care provider will have to come up with that money before that can be accomplished. Plans are to add 14 more exam rooms at the site.
FHCN began in 1976 in Porterville to provide health care to farmworkers and has grown to include 14 sites, 12 of those medical clinics spread through Tulare and Kings counties.
Besides the Terra Bella clinic and expansion of the Porterville site on Poplar Avenue, Foster said they are planning on moving its community health staff to the old dental site on Putnam Avenue near Sierra View Hospital in February. Incoming CEO Kerry Hydash said that will provide better access to the community.
With the advent of the Affordable Health Care Act, Foster said he has been in discussions with Sierra View on some collaborative efforts, including expanding the number of health clinics in Porterville.
“We have some opportunities with Sierra View and we’re excited about that,” said Foster, who will retire in April.
SVDH board member Kent Sorrels said the board is open to working with Family HealthCare Network, saying there is a “synergy” they both hope they can build upon.
FHCN also is planning on a major remodel of its Visalia clinic. That work should begin next year as well.