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Goleta Medical Clinic, Expanded Dental Practice in Works for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics

New primary-care facility on Calle Real to open in July while existing Kinman Avenue dental clinic will triple capacity when construction is completed later this summer

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is opening a new primary-care facility at 5580 Calle Real in Goleta. Its operations are supported by a federal grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is opening a new primary-care facility at 5580 Calle Real in Goleta. Its operations are supported by a federal grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Following through on its plan to expand services to Goleta, the nonprofit Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is opening a new medical clinic on Calle Real and growing its Old Town dental clinic.

The summer expansion is being funded, in part, with a federal operational grant.

SBNC, which operates four primary-care medical clinics and two dental clinics on the South Coast, received the new federal grant at the same time it had turned to the local community, seeking substantial financial support to keep its doors open, board chairman Stephen Hicks said.

“I think there is some community confusion about why we would be moving ahead with this expansion at a time when we’re still recovering — at this point, I would say fully recovered — from that crisis two years ago,” Hicks told Noozhawk.

“This application was in process already and subsequently awarded, and it was very important for us to take advantage of that award in that it gives us ongoing federal revenue and elevates the clinics to this federally qualified health center.”

In 2013, Cottage Health System paid for a consultant to develop a turnaround plan for SBNC, and a coalition of foundations and donors added $600,000 as certain milestones were met. The clinics serve 17,000 patients a year on the South Coast.

“We were basically kept alive by the community,” Hicks said.

SBNC announced the two-clinic expansion in November 2013 when it received the federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant recognized the underserved population in Goleta, and Hicks said it will provide about $650,000 per year for the two sites.

The federal grant helps fill the gap between cost of services and reimbursements, but SBNC still relies on community support to fund the rest of its clinics.

“Of course this is a big boost to an operation that’s basically designed to lose money, just from the get-go,” Hicks said. “It’s an enormous help to us on a continuing basis.”

The $1 million construction cost for the new clinic — which is located at 5580 Calle Real at Kellogg Avenue — was financed and donated, not grant-funded, and the new facility will start accepting patients in July, Goleta project manager Melissa McDermott said.

The single-story office building used to be a church and once was home to the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, but it’s impossible to tell after crews gutted the space and put up walls separating exam rooms, laboratories, waiting areas and physician and support staff offices.

Construction is under way at the new Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics location at 5580 Calle Real in Goleta. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Construction is under way at the new Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics location at 5580 Calle Real in Goleta. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Dr. Charles Fenzi, SBNC’s chief medical officer, and Dr. Neil Patrick Sullivan helped design the new clinic space, which has six exam rooms, one procedure room, a medicine dispensary, and the required laboratories and bathrooms, McDermott said.

“It’s designed to have the patient experience be kind of like Ikea,” she said.

During a tour, she demonstrated how patients will enter through the waiting room and proceed counterclockwise through the clinic, moving from exam rooms to waiting areas with stops at the health promotion counselor’s office to enroll in health insurance or social services, if needed, and the referral counselor.

It will be the only Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic with behavioral health services.

SBNC only uses 60 percent of the building due to the limited construction funding, but has an application pending for $1 million in capital grant funds to take over the rest of the space and expand, McDermott said.

The largest expense is the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, which has specific airflow requirements for each area of the clinic under federal standards, she said.

McDermott said a failure to meet HVAC requirements delayed the opening of SBNC’s temporary medical clinic at 334 S. Patterson Ave., Suite 203, near Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. That location will be closed after the permanent Calle Real location opens in July, she said.

SBNC also will expand its ​Old Town Goleta dental clinic to nine chairs from three after leasing the other half of the building at 164 Kinman Ave., Suite A, for a capital cost of about $900,000.

Demand for dental services is very high, particularly since SBNC accepts Denti-Cal, the dental insurance from Medi-Cal, McDermott said. Construction will start as soon as the Calle Real clinic is finished, she said.

The popular Eastside Dental Clinic has a six-month waiting list and the Goleta clinic already has a month-long waitlist after opening its doors last October.

“In California, generally, we’re told there is a real shortage of dental care available to the underserved,” Hicks said. “This is a big increase in capacity, and we are convinced that the need is there.”

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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