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Kaiser donates to two health centers

Local facilities receive money to improve and rebuild offices

Posted: December 28, 2008 8:10 p.m.
Updated: December 29, 2008 4:55 a.m.

The Northeast Valley health center in Valencia received $90,000 from Kaiser Permanente. The money will be used to renovate and update their offices.

Kaiser Permanente donated $290,000 to two health care centers that serve Santa Clarita Valley residents.

The Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers Inc. and the Northeast Valley Health Corp., which operate health centers around Santa Clarita, applied to Kaiser's Community Benefit Program to rebuild and modify their offices, which serve thousands of uninsured and under-insured people a year.

Samuel Dixon received $200,000 and Northeast Valley received $90,000, both with specific instructions from Kaiser to spend it only on improvement projects.

"Community health centers act as a health care safety net," said Kaiser's Assistant Area Medical Director Dr. Marc Hoffman. "They take care of the under-insured and uninsured people. As a health-care provider we see them as important."

Hoffman emphasized the importance of upholding affordable community-based health centers, especially in an economic crisis that has many struggling to pay for health care.

Throughout the year, Kaiser donates money to health centers across Los Angeles County.

Kaiser, a nonprofit insurance provider serving more than 6.1 million Californians, is obligated by its Community Benefit Program to give back to the communities it serves financially, said Kaiser spokesman Danny Rogan.

Rogan said Kaiser employees are on the boards of Samuel Dixon and Northeast Valley, so Kaiser was already informed of the problems facing clinics run by these two organizations in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Santa Clarita, in particular, is a part of one of the most uninsured areas in the Los Angeles area, according to Valley Care Community Consortium, a group of researchers that release an annual report on health coverage. Kaiser used this report in its decision for health center funding, Rogan said.

In the report, researchers divided Los Angeles County into different Service Planning Areas. Santa Clarita falls inside an area encompassing 36 cities, 65 zip codes and more than two million people.

Overall, this region represents about a fifth of the 10 million Los Angeles County residents.

In Santa Clarita, thousands of people - many of whom live below the federal poverty level and receive little to no health insurance - visit the Samuel Dixon and Northeast Valley centers. The grant from Kaiser allows these health centers to continue to function under the stress of heavy visitations and minimal facilities.

The Northeast Valley center in Valencia takes in more about 27,000 people, a fact which infringes upon the clinic's ability to keep customer flow steady, said Associate Clinic Administrator Monica Manzano.

"We have the same space but a lot more demand for the clinic," Manzano said. "The more we are able to stream-line things, the more we are able to serve people."

In 1995, Northeast Valley was given full reign over the health center in Valencia by Los Angeles County.

Since this time, the health center has received little to no modifications.

Manzano said there is now a lack of resources for the under-insured in the Santa Clarita Valley, which creates a huge demand for the clinic.

"The project goal is to improve quality and cost effectiveness of care and thereby increase access to care for our target populations (like the) low income, uninsured and under-insured," Manzano said.

Samuel Dixon representatives were not available for comment Friday, but a press release from Kaiser said the Newhall clinic will use the funds to "support a new full-service health center."


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