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Home Uncategorized Health clinics struggle to stay open – Daily Democrat

Health clinics struggle to stay open – Daily Democrat

Community health clinics that serve some of the state’s most vulnerable residents are struggling with how to keep their doors open while patient visits plummet during the coronavirus shelter-in-place mandate.

Statewide, patient visits are down by roughly half across California’s network of community clinics and health centers, leading to tens of millions in lost revenue each week.

Many local health clinics that primarily serve low-income residents and rely on Medicaid reimbursements to make up a large portion of their income. So the dramatic reductions in patient visits threaten their ability to stay open and care for the kinds of patients who are at a heightened risk of contracting the virus.

Experts say the San Francisco Bay Area, which has been in lockdown longer than anywhere else in the nation, has been particularly affected, with some already instituting furloughs or layoffs.

“The Bay Area clinics are hard-hit,’ says Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and chief executive officer of the California Primary Care Association.

There are about 1,300 community clinics and health centers across California serving more than 7 million patients annually — nearly one-sixth of the state’s population. Many provide care to residents particularly at-risk of contracting the virus or uniquely vulnerable to it. Community health centers serve roughly 1 in every 3 MediCal recipients, and in 2019 worked with 486,628 migrant workers and 246,268 homeless residents, according to CPCA.

Communicare in Yolo County is one such clinic. It serves people in Woodland, Davis and the rural areas of Yolo County

With patient visits down, Castellano-Garcia says California’s community clinics are collectively losing about $90 million a week. Up to 77 health centers statewide may not be able to make payroll within 90 days if the current trends persist.

“It is not sustainable,” she says.

The federal government recently granted the nation’s federally funded community health centers a reprieve, awarding $1.32 billion to health centers nationwide. But many say that’s not enough to cover their losses.

This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.

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