Thursday, October 30, 2008

Leaders unveil revamped Franklin Clinic


It took many years of planning, but officials unveiled a completely overhauled community clinic at the Franklin Neighborhood Center that now boasts expanded waiting areas and exam rooms.
Community leaders applauded the $1.14 million renovation as a much-needed upgrade in order to provide primary healthcare for the residents of the neighborhood.

“This is truly a community clinic,” County Supervisor Salud Carbajal said.
Approximately 75 percent of its visitors live in the area, he said, and many rely on the healthcare services offered, from pediatrics to urgent care.
Judy Stebbens, the clinic manager for the Franklin and Carpinteria centers, said the difference between the renovated clinic and its former self is night and day.
A year ago, patients had to cram into a small waiting room that only had 13 chairs, she said.
“People were standing in the hallway or sitting on the floor,” she said.
Now the clinic boasts a spacious waiting area with 30 seats and a separate waiting room for infants.
But perhaps the most visible change is the increase in exam rooms — more than doubling from three to eight rooms.
“It was just poorly designed,” Stebbens said of the old setup. “It was never intended to be a health clinic.”
With the increased capacity, she has already seen an increase in the number of patients, up by at least a third.
“I just think the word is out,” she said.
In addition to gutting a section of the 10,592 square-foot building, which was built in 1974, the redesign included new flooring, new lighting and decorative tilework.
Elliot Schulman, the county’s public health director, said in the years before the building was constructed, the clinic was housed in a trailer.
“This has been a long effort,” he said. “…It has gone through a number of iterations to get here.”
The demand for service at the neighborhood clinic is undeniable, he added, noting that the center logged 11,000 patient visits last year.
A former nurse at nearby Franklin Elementary School, Congresswoman Lois Capps said she has had a particular interest in the project.
“It’s always been a very important corner, a very important block,” she said. “…This is a lifesaver.”
She said she plans to use the community clinic as a model to show her colleagues in Washington, DC, how to provide critical healthcare to the most vulnerable in the community.
While Thursday's rededication ceremony brought out public officials and community members, Stebbens said the clinic has actually been open for several months, since construction wrapped up at the end of July.
“It’s surreal,” she said. “To see it come to fruition and to walk through the waiting room full of patients, it’s just so rewarding.”

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