Healthy Choices

Cares Community Health adds to safety net for underserved residents

Cares Community Health, a nonprofit clinic initially founded to serve Sacramento’s HIV-positive population, was added this week to a short list of Federally Qualified Health Centers committed to providing primary care to low-income patients.

An FQHC, as the clinic was dubbed Tuesday, is a designation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that entitles a facility to federal grants for serving the community’s most needy. Cares Community Health will receive about $700,000 per year to expand its services at 21st and O streets, where many of midtown Sacramento’s homeless people already gather.

The grant follows an announcement of the clinic’s expansion into a space formerly occupied by the UC Davis Medical Group at 2000 O St. The acquisition of the building, which has 23 exam rooms, will allow Cares to continue moving beyond HIV care to include primary care, dental care and behavioral health services, said Janet Parker-Seychelles, Cares spokeswoman.

The number of Sacramento patients seeking primary care has steadily increased as more low-income adults enroll in Medi-Cal under the federal health care overhaul. A handful of community health centers – including Wellspace Health, Health and Life Organization, and Elica – have sought and attained FQHC status in the last five years to meet the need.

“The safety net for Greater Sacramento’s most vulnerable families has just gained tremendous reinforcement with Cares becoming an FQHC,” said Bob Kamrath, chief executive officer of Cares Community Health, in a press release.

Cares Community Health has provided more than 32,000 office visits to 4,650 primarily uninsured and under-insured residents of the Sacramento region in the last year – an increase of more than 30 percent from the preceding 12 months. The clinic will continue to serve patients at 1500 21st St. until its additional space opens in 2016.

Call The Bee’s Sammy Caiola, (916) 321-1636.