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November 23, 2012

The New County Health Care Facility

City Manager Rick Daniel writes:

The Desert Healthcare District Board of Directors will consider an Agenda item Tuesday [November 27] which proposes to jointly develop a University of Riverside School of Medicine Primary Care Medical Center that will provide a teaching platform for two key residency programs including family medicine and OB-GYN in the County's unoccupied building on Palm Drive, south of Von's. The UCR SoM will occupy 19,802 sq. ft of the 24,848 sq. ft. building. The remaining 5,048 sq. ft. will be operated by the County of Riverside Community Health Agency (CHA) to provide the Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The UCR SoM and the WIC are estimated to jointly employ 150 skilled and professional positions at operation.

The Borrego Community Health Foundation will proceed to build on the already City approved site known as the "Former Jewish Temple" on East Pierson Boulevard. Borrego is working with the City of Desert Hot Springs, the RDA Successor Agency, and the Oversight Board to expedite the sale of the property and the construction of the clinic. The 10,000 sq. ft. clinic is expected to open in the Summer of 2013. Borrego will target the 17,000 residents living at or below the 200% Federal Poverty Limit and will provide children and adult healthcare services regardless of a patient's ability to pay. A total of 15 exam rooms will be utilized by 7 healthcare providers and their staff to provide healthcare services to approximately 10,000 patients annually.

Additionally, the new Community Health and Wellness Center includes four dental exam rooms and two medical exam rooms for the Youth Medical/Dental Clinic as part of the Health Center, Boys and Girls Club, and the John Furbee Aquatics Center. Borrego Community Health Foundation will operate this facility in collaboration with the UCR SoM.

Background

UCR SoM will construct and staff up to 12 exam rooms with 6 healthcare providers providing services to approximately 12,000 patients annually. A robust residency training platform will include up to 50 medical school residents rotating annually.

The WIC Program will serve at least 2,500 individuals per month. WIC helps families by providing checks for buying healthy supplemental foods from WIC authorized vendors, nutrition education, and assistance in finding health care and other community services. This program will provide special checks for healthy foods, nutrition and health education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care and other services. Eligible participants will include women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or new mothers, and infants and children up to 5 years of age. Participants who complete the initial requirements will be issued WIC checks that can be redeemed at Mother's Nutritional Center, which is located at most grocery stores or next door to the WIC office. This facility will be one of 17 WIC sites throughout Riverside County, the WIC program serves about 80,000 participants each month.

The EDA is also proposing they jointly develop with the College of the Desert a 10,000 sq. ft. campus on the 14 acre site occupied by the Family Care Center Building. COD would be expected to provide general education classes as well as allied healthcare education and certification. The COD building would be built either adjacent to or across from the UCR SoM complex to facilitate collaboration between agencies.

The total cost to complete the construction of the UCR SoM space is estimated to be $1.5 million from the Healthcare District. EDA constructed the estimated $9.1M building shell and external improvements. Furniture, fixtures, and equipment are estimated at $700,000. If this funding is secured promptly, construction is expected to resume January 1, 2013 with the clinic fully operational by April 1,2013.

Issues

The original facility was built with little or no involvement by the City into design, location, drainage, landscaping, or traffic control. Of greater concern is that the County has repeatedly declined to pay the City's Development Impact Fees estimated to be $239,044. Only after withholding an easement did the County agree to provide $127,000 reconstruct and widen Park Lane which was a condition of development that was placed on the property when it was processed for development by the earlier owner (as you know development conditions run with the land; no matter who the owner is). The MOU to construct was approved by your Council earlier this year.

Another issue is that the new President of C.O.D. met with your City Council on his first day in office and outlined to your Council their plans to build a "Learning Center" south of the Community Health and Wellness Center, immediately west of the City Hall parking lot. Since that time Rudy Acosta and I have been developing plans for a joint project whereby the City would construct a new library in conjunction with the C.O.D. "Learning Center." For five years the COD has been looking for sites for their Center and throughout that time they have insisted on being immediately adjacent to the High School because from there is where they expect their main student base to originate.

The 14 acre parcel of County land extends south of the existing unoccupied building to Park Lane and east to the Desert Springs Middle School athletic fields. In 2010/11 the City applied for a state recreation grant with Supervisor Ashley's permission to expand the Mission Springs Soccer Park across Park Lane to occupy a large part of the unused portion of the County parcel.

One of the areas that EDA is proposing to construct the COD facility is on the corner of Park Lane and Palm. That is a prime commercial site and placing a COD facility there is underutilizing its revenue potential for the City.

I am meeting with EDA on Wednesday and will raise these issues with them. I am asking the City Attorney to renew our demand for DIF's. Alternatively, I will also seek the non-cash equivalent such as the Park Lane signalization or the back portion of this land for the soccer park expansion. I will also seek landscaping upgrade.

By this time next year the City should have gone from 2 to 3 doctors to over a dozen at these three facilities. That takes the City out of the "medically underserved" category. We are on our way to truly being a Health and Wellness Community. Additionally, there are at least two other proposals for private practices that have been proposed.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | November 23, 2012 at 06:31 PM

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