Shasta Community Health Center
Doctor will see you now — in new downtown facility Community health center to open facility downtown

For 140 health-care workers and their 40,000 mostly low-income patients, Tuesday is Opening Day.

After more than 18 months of waiting, planning and building, the Shasta Community Health Center will open the doors to its new facility at Placer and Continental streets in downtown Redding.

The independent, nonprofit clinic's move from the old Shasta County hospital on Breslauer Way comes after work crews converted the old wide-open Citizens Communications headquarters into a state-of-the-art health center.

Patients will stroll down naturally lighted corridors to 60 examination rooms, a pharmacy, a blood center and other amenities. New features include a general radiology machine and a mammography unit, Executive Director Dean Germano said.

"We used to have the (mammography) service, but the equipment died on us, so we're going to be getting back into the business again," Germano said. "Shasta County has one of the highest rates of breast cancer mortality in California, so it's important we play a part in helping prevent breast cancer deaths."

The health clinic's 12 family doctors, two pediatricians, five nurse practitioners, 34 outside specialists and other professionals receive about 80,000 patient visits a year, Germano said. The clinic uses a sliding fee scale and contracts with the county to provide free care to uninsured, low-income residents.

The new facility will have four clinical units: family practice, pediatrics, specialty medicine and a family practice residency program for doctors in training, Germano said. Lim's Pharmacy will move into a front space, providing the uninsured access to low-cost medication, and Redding Pathology Labs will operate a lab in the clinic.

The move was prompted by space needs for the clinic and for the county Department of Mental Health, which will move some operations into the vacated Breslauer site, County Administrative Officer Doug Latimer said. The clinic's lease of the county-owned hospital site expired this year.

Clinic officials considered accepting county-donated land near Breslauer and building a new health center, but the project was estimated to cost $1 million for parking and $4 million for the building, said Ron Beyer, the Redding architect for the project.

Citizens, a telecommunications company that moved most of its regional operations from Redding to Elk Grove in the early 1990s, sold its building at 1035 Placer St. to the clinic for $750,000 — a fraction of the building's $7 million assessed value.

The clinic, which has about an $11 million annual operating budget, raised $4.5 million for the renovation. The Redding Bank of Commerce donated property for parking, giving the new clinic more than 200 parking spaces.

The building has 51,000 square feet, compared with 28,000 square feet in the Breslauer facility.

"It's a beautiful building," Beyer said. "I think it's right up there with RMC (Redding Medical Center) and it reflects the kind of care. I think buildings do that. They reflect how their owners feel about their clients."

The clinic's impending move drew mixed reviews from patients waiting to be seen Thursday morning. Redding homemaker Nora Ashley, 62, who's been going to the clinic for 10 years, said she favored it.

"I think it will be better convenience for everyone," she said. "They'll have all the nurses and everyone at the same place. I think it will be better."

But Dorothy Beem, 79, who drives other seniors from her Anderson church to doctor visits, said downtown Redding is a poor place for a clinic.

"That's a madhouse up in that area," she said. "I have to take people up there to see doctors, and there's never any place to park."

Still, clinic employees have been itching for the move, particularly since poison oak smoke was blamed for forcing evacuation of the Breslauer Way complex for several days in December, Germano said.

"We have been ready for a long time," he said. "We're just ecstatic. My staff could hardly wait. It's like kids at Christmastime. We're very ready to be here."

Tim Hearden
Record Searchlight

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