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Sonoma Valley Community Health Center closes escrow

A drawing of what the interior of the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center will look like.

A drawing of what the interior of the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center will look like.

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After a few twists and turns, the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center finally closed escrow on its new site this week, at 19270 Sonoma Highway. Officials said construction will begin shortly to transform the former Sonoma Rental Center into a full-service medical hub, offering everything from primary care providers and obstetrics, to behavioral and dental health, when it opens in April 2014.

“This project started eight years ago, and closing escrow on the site is a major milestone toward our goal,” said health center CEO Cheryl Johnson. “It would not have been possible without the generosity and talent of many members of our community. Our dream of a new community health center for Sonoma Valley is now well on its way to becoming a reality. We are in the final stages of the building permit process and expect construction to begin in early November.”

The total project cost is $12 million, but the health center has received a variety of grants from local, county and federal agencies, including a $5 million expansion grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The center has launched a three-year capital campaign to raise an additional $5 million, which began with the first phase to raise $1.2 million to close escrow on the new building. More than 100 donors contributed to the effort, which allowed the center to close escrow on Thursday. Now the center is in the midst of its second phase, to raise another $3.8 million to cover project costs. But, thanks to the grants and a $5 million loan from the nonprofit NBC Capital Investments, construction will begin as soon as the permits are in place.

Neenan Architecture, a Colorado-based firm with more than 20 years of experience working with federally qualified health centers, will lead the project.

The new site will greatly increase the amount of services the health center can offer, including the Valley’s first permanent dental clinic to address the needs of children and expecting mothers.

The Sonoma Valley Community Health Center has long sought to move out of its current location on West Napa Street, which spans three buildings, creating confusion and inefficiencies for both patients and staff. The need for new digs became even more important with the launch of the Affordable Care Act, which will greatly increase the number of residents with health insurance, thus increasing the health center’s patient volume.

“With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, we expect to see more people seeking medical services throughout the county,” Johnson said. “In Sonoma Valley, we have historically seen a shortage of physicians and medical services, which can lead to long waits for appointments, and to people putting off needed medical treatment. The new health center will allow us to expand our capacity significantly and help meet the needs of these new patients.”

For more information about the capital campaign or to make a donation, call Kathleen Bianchi-Rossi, director of development at 939-6070, ext. 207, or send an email to krossi@SVCHC.org.