The Del Puerto Health Center is currently located in a small facility on Ward Avenue in Patterson. The doctors and nurses at the center see more than 100 patients a day in a facility that is just over 5,000 square feet. This facility is far too small to continue to meet the growing demand for health care services in Patterson.
Many senior citizens, people with disabilities and working families with young children find it difficult to see a doctor. These Patterson residents must travel to Modesto or farther for their many medical needs.
For many months, the issue of the health center moving to a new, expanded facility has been discussed and debated. In fact, the Patterson Planning Commission has already unanimously approved the move. However, this decision was appealed on the grounds that a minor change in the zoning of the Keystone Pacific Business Park is required for the move to be finalized.
When we heard that the need for this zoning change could delay the health center’s move by a year or more, we began looking at ways to bring expanded health services to Patterson more quickly.
We discovered that the initiative process allows citizens to bring an issue to the City Council for prompt consideration and resolution. Once signatures from at least 10 percent of the registered voters in Patterson are collected, the issue will go before the Patterson City Council. At that point, the council can adopt the initiative or place the issue on a ballot for Patterson residents to decide.
Last week, we submitted a citizen initiative called the City of Patterson Health Care Expansion Act to City Hall. If approved, this initiative will make the zoning changes required to allow the Del Puerto Health Center to move to an expanded facility.
The new facility at the business park will allow the health center up to 30,000 square feet to provide primary care, pediatrics, internal medicine, cardiology, radiology, neurology, orthopedics, minor surgery and urgent care.
We are leading a volunteer group of Patterson citizens to ensure this initiative is successful.
Some have tried to imply that our motivations for proposing this initiative are political in nature. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our only motivation is to expand access to health care and medical specialists in our community.
In the days since we released the initiative, we have heard some rumors and incorrect information about the initiative.
Here are the facts:
• This initiative will not increase taxes of any kind by one penny. The initiative will not fund the health center’s move to the new location — it only makes the zoning change required for the move to occur. The Del Puerto Health Care District will fund the health center’s move with existing resources.
• Approval of this initiative will result in a diversification of new jobs with good wages in Patterson. An expanded health center will create new jobs and attract other health care providers who will see a business opportunity in offering their services to the patients seeking care at the health center.
• Some have claimed that the initiative will lead to a special election that will cost the city thousands of dollars. However, a special election is only necessary if the City Council does not adopt the zoning changes when the issue goes before the council. This is the normal legal process available to citizens when their voices are not being heard by their elected officials.
In the coming weeks, you may be asked to sign a petition to qualify this initiative. We hope that you will take the time to read the initiative and ask questions. We’re confident you’ll see that the purpose of this initiative is plain and simple: Approve the move!
If some people in the community disagree with the need for expanded health care for our community, we look forward to a spirited debate on that issue. However, for the sake of our community, we hope that the debate will stay focused on the merits of the initiative proposal and not devolve into personal attacks and mudslinging.
For more information, please call 589-5312 or visit www.localhealthcarenow.org.
• Kathy Wright is a 19-year resident of Patterson, a former member of the Patterson City Council and chair of Patterson Citizens for Expanded 21st Century Healthcare.