Construction has begun on Sonoma Valley Community Health Center’s new home which will be located at 19270 Sonoma Highway.

It also named Julie Vlasis as chief operating officer.

“This is an exciting time for our Community Health Center,” said Cheryl Johnson, the health center’s CEO. “Our permits have been pulled and, after years of preparation, construction on the new Health Center has finally started. We plan to have a formal ground breaking ceremony in January. On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to personally thank everyone who has played a role in this project's success. We could not have done this without the help of so many people. I am also very grateful for the outpouring of support from all of our very generous donors.”

Johnson said the health center will launch a number of significant operating initiatives in 2014 including a major upgrade to its electronic health records (EHR) system and said Vlasis brings significant technical and executive experience to the management team of the health center to help with these projects.

Vlasis brings 20 years of extensive experience with Federally Qualified Health Centers such as SVCHC, and executive management experience in the areas of revenue cycle management, compliance with rapidly changing and increasingly complex regulations, electronic health record implementation and management, patient centered medical home implementation, and hands on staff training program development. Johnson said those areas are critical to the future success of SVCHC.

Vlasis holds a bachelors degree in business from California State University, Fresno and additional certifications and licenses.

The new health center is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014 and will almost triple the clinical space and available parking. The new Community Health Center will include:

• A family practice clinic;

• Obstetrics and specialty services wing;

• Integrated behavioral health services;

• A dental clinic;

• Health navigator center;

• Community education center.

The new Community Health Center will feature the first and only dental clinic to address the needs of low-income pediatric patients and expectant mothers in Sonoma Valley.

To support the development of the new Community Health Center, the board launched a multi-phased $5 million capital campaign in the summer of 2013.

Because of the support of more than 100 donors, the first phase was completed at the end of October and the health center was able to close escrow on its new home.

The second phase of the campaign is now underway with an emphasis on securing philanthropic investments that will that will enable the health center to open the new facility during the summer of 2014, expand clinical services, strengthen its balance sheet and attract new physicians to the area.