CALIFORNIA CITY – The city’s newest healthcare provider, Bartz-Altadonna Community Health Center officially opened their doors at 9300 North Loop Blvd. April 20. The opening was little more low key than anticipated, due to Coronavirus pandemic, but they will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Originally we had planned that what we would do is have a big grand opening up and free clinic for everyone in the community,” said Bartz-Altadonna Chief of Staff Pamela Griffin. “We did a big one in Lancaster in January, where we served over 300 people with no insurance, we had vision, dental and medical care available.”
A federally Qualified Health Center, Bartz-Altadonna provides comprehensive primary medical care for all ages, mental health care and women’s health care for low-income, uninsured, underinsured and homeless persons and accept most insurance plans. They also work with several patient assistance programs sponsored by various pharmaceutical companies who help eligible patients obtain free or low cost medications such as; AIDS Drug Assistance Program, 340B prescription Program, and Patient Assistance Program. On-site certified enrollment specialists are ready to assist clients obtain health coverage benefits and or low cost primary care services.
Services include primary care, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, infectious disease care, orthopedics, HIV treatment, behavioral health, podiatry and pain management, as well as a mobile unit among other services.
“We’re just hoping that we can build interest and we’re trying to encourage people to register by phone, that’s why we have people set up doing registration,” said Griffin.”We want healthy people to come in. Those that are sick (with possible COVID-19 symptoms) we’re saying please stay home. Self monitor, self quarantine to make sure that you’re not. But if they do have symptoms and need to be tested we can send a mobile team to go test them on site.”
Registration can be done through their web site: bartz-altadonna-chc.org, or via phone at (661) 874-4050. They will also be offering telehealth over the phone and possibly adding an onsite video conference capability.
People entering the clinic area are screened for possible COVID-19 exposure with a series of questions and have their temperature taken. If they are exhibiting symptoms, they will be sent to the mobile clinic parked nearby for additional screening or treatment.
“It could become a new normal to do telehealth, maybe half of our workforce would be doing the telephone and half would be in the office,” said Griffin. “I think they’ll always be a population that wants to have a face to face, and see a provider.”
Bartz-Altadonna will have a medical doctor onsite some days and a nurse practitioner – who are supervised by doctors – on other days. They will also be offering behavioral health services, integrating that care with primary medical care.
“We do a physical we do all of that, then refer them to psych or behavioral health if needed,” said Griffin. “That way we are integrating their care. We can have case conferences, consult and make sure we’re doing that whole, thing there.
“We want to start getting a list of how many obstetrics services are needed so that we’re gonna have a one day OB clinic, a pediatrics clinic, depending on what the need is,” said Griffin. “I know we’re going to eventually have them, because we want to support the school districts and have our mobile go out and do immunization clinics.”
Currently being staffed by two teams out of Lancaster, Griffin said the goal is to hire local health care professionals who may be commuting long distances to work outside California City.
“So, any nurses, doctors certified medical assistants that are in the community, we would love to get resumes, because we’re for actually seeding it with a team from Lancaster,” said Griffin. Interested applicants can call (661) 874-4050 to speak with the human resources department or send their resumes via email to Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Kern Health Care District have been lobbying hard to get Bartz-Altadonna up and running.
“In my opinion Bartz-Altadonna is bringing a great resource to California City in mental health, homelessness care, infectious disease treatment and care, counseling, crisis intervention drug and alcohol counseling,” said East Kern Health Care District Director Tawney Sparks. “It’s a great resource we really needed this in this community. For somebody in crisis to have to drive 45 minutes to get care and now they can get it here this is incredible. It took us, probably a year just to be able to get them in here and we’re so tickled that they are here.”
Community Church pastor Rev. Ronald Sparks, who does outreach and volunteer work on homelessness, veteran’s affairs and mental health and substance abuse, also praised the opening.
“I’ve been, the chairman of the board or catalyst foundation for HIV and AIDS for 26 years now since I’ve been out here,’ said Sparks. “Bartz-Altadonna used to be part of our medical team, until they branched off a few years ago because medical grants and other things were easier to secure. The name was in honor of two of our young men who died of medical complications of full blown AIDS, Sonny Bartz and Frank Altadonna. I’m really honored that they kept the name to continue to honor those two men who very, very much pushed towards you know getting more medical care in the Lancaster area.
“Why this is important is – not just to enhance our medical care in this community which we greatly need because our hospitals unfortunately are a good distance away – but I’ve always been concerned for the last 26 years because a lot of the people that I deal with, especially homeless people have a very high rate of mental health issues, and I’ve had nowhere to go with them. I have had no resources. Now we have that capacity and as that begins to grow, we can maybe expand that capacity for mental health services. Also they do a lot of substance abuse, which is another problem that city has and now we have those kind of resources where we can direct people for care.”