CALEXICO — Over time, the population here and its need for medical care has outgrown what the Calexico Health Center, which was established in 2004 by Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District, was originally built to provide.
A $3 million expansion project set to begin this month will give the Health Center a much-needed expansion, both structure-wise and in the type of care it provides.
Members of PMHD and Calexico city officials participated in a ground breaking ceremony Thursday afternoon at the Health Center, located at 450 E. Birch St., to celebrate the start of the project — which will add over 5,700 square feet of new space and also remodel the Health Center’s existing 7,600-square feet.
“Trying to provide care in an aging facility and a cramped facility makes our work quite challenging,” explained CHC’s Medical Director Dr. Clara Padron-Spence. “We are currently occupying every square inch of space in the facility. We’re literally busting at the seams. Due to our limited spaces, there are a lot of services that we are unable to provide.”
The center will also expand from having only 13 exam rooms to having 30 exam rooms, and provide women’s health and pediatrics full time, which it only previously provided partially.
The project will also allow the center to comfortably accommodate nine medical providers, as it currently hosts only five core providers.
After completion of the project, the Health Center will widen to over 13,000-square feet, making it PMHD’s largest clinic to date.
“The residents of Calexico will no longer need to travel to other cities for health care, and the residents of the Imperial Valley will be able to access more care locally,” stated Padron-Spence.
“This is a day to celebrate because we are growing to become a bigger community and a better community,” said PMHD Board President Maria Garcia-Aguilera during the ceremony.
On Jan. 4, the PMHD Board unanimously approved a 14-month, $3,438,322 construction contract with Duggins Construction, Inc., to construct all three phases of Health Center’s expansion project.
Phase one of the project consists of improving the parking lot and driveway for the Center, along with the installation of additional utility connections.
Phase two includes construction of the 17 new additional rooms and a new lobby entrance to support the growing demand of pediatric and women’s services in the region. Phase three will include remodeling and re-roofing the existing clinic space.
The project will also allow the center to eventually provide services in nephrology, orthopedic and ophthalmology and gives potential for future expansion services, including general surgery, urology and gastroenterology.
“We have tremendous challenges in the border city, so any way we can provide and invest in additional expanded services to the city of Calexico, I’m on board,” stated Imperial County Board of Supervisor and Calexico native John Renison during Thursday’s ceremony.
Rension also noted that approximately 15 emergency calls a day are made from the city’s Port of Entry requesting medical attention for people, who are then transported to El Centro Regional Medical Center via ambulance.
Mayor of Calexico Maritza Hurtado compared the Health Center’s expansion to other upcoming projects in the city — including the approximately 600 homes being built in the north side of the city and the expansion of the new Port of Entry — noting that while the city is facing challenges, it also continues to see positive growth.
“Just recently, I had to use the services of this clinic and I found that it definitely does have quality service for the citizens of the city of Calexico, and expanding this project is exactly what we need to do at this point,” indicated Hurtado.
“Our needs, and progress, keep growing. When I sat down and read the information in regard to this project, of course, I was so excited because this is the first time you’re going to see that this building is going to actually once again be near to what a hospital is.”
The Health Center was originally established by PMH as a rural health clinic to address the significant provider shortages in area, and currently see’s over 22,000 patients per year — 60-percent of which are walk-ins, which is a result of not having enough providers in the community.
“We just so look forward to finding ways to serve the needs of this community,” said PMHD’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Lewis. “Everybody recognizes those needs and I’m happy to say our Board is committed to helping Calexico in meeting those needs.”
Staff Writer Vincent Osuna can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3442.