Health care options expand in 2012
by Maddy Houk
Dec 20, 2012 | 1383 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents of the Patterson area gained health care options in 2012 with the opening of Del Puerto Health Center in the Keystone Pacific Business Park and plans for an Emanuel Medical Center office at Ward and Las Palmas avenues.

Meanwhile, the Del Puerto Health Care District, which seeks to increase health amenities in the city of Patterson, underwent major changes, gaining a new CEO and dealing with turnover among medical directors and board members.

While health care issues stirred less controversy than in recent years, when the health care district grappled with city officials about the location of its health center, change was the theme for 2012.

The Del Puerto Health District, which runs the health center, opened its new office at the beginning of March. The 11,000-square-foot building at 1700 Keystone Pacific Parkway has room for the present family practice doctors and for future specialists in areas such as dermatology and cardiology.

In January, a few weeks after the departure of Dr. Ali Wahid, the medical director of the health clinic, the board announced the hiring of longtime Patterson physician Dr. David Hilburn. Wahid started a private practice in Patterson.

Hilburn had treated patients in Patterson for more than 25 years through Sutter Gould Medical Foundation. He remained medical director at the Del Puerto clinic for six months and then shocked the community when he, too, announced his resignation.

The district also had two CEOs at the helm in 2012, beginning with Chad Vargas, who resigned in March. The day after the April grand opening celebration of the clinic, Vargas left for Southern California with his family.

Richard Nakamura, who has extensive experience in the health care industry, became interim CEO in May and was hired in mid-July after besting a field of 49 applicants for the job.

Three members of the Del Puerto Health Care District Board of Directors ran for re-election on the Nov. 6 ballot. Anne Stokman’s and Jeannette Kessler’s four-year terms and Fred Beltran’s two-year term were all up this year.

Rural Patterson resident Ed Maring, who served on the board for more than two decades before losing his seat on the board in 2010, also threw his hat in the ring for a four-year seat.

When the votes were tallied, Maring and Stokman won the four-year terms, and Beltran, the only candidate for the two-year term, was also re-elected. Ramona Evans and Harold Hill completed the five-member board.

Kessler, who served on the district’s finance committee, had served nine years on the board.

One seat remains open as 2012 closes, however, as Evans resigned in the fall after completing two years of her four-year term. Applications are being taken for the seat.

Evans, a registered nurse who was elected in 2010, said in her letter of resignation that she was leaving the board for personal reasons and that she was pleased with Nakamura’s leadership of the district.

And to the east in Patterson’s True Value Shopping Center, a family practice office that will be run by Turlock-based Emanuel Family Center is expected to open at the end of January at Ward and Las Palmas avenues. Pennie Rorex, assistant vice president of Corporate Communication and Marketing for Emanuel, said Emanuel is waiting for licensing from the state before the office opens. The nearly 4,000-square-foot office has six exam rooms, an X-ray room and offices.

A physician will be at the Patterson office five days a week to start, and Emanuel, which runs Turlock’s hospital, eventually plans to expand its hours.

• Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com.

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