January 9, 2014
VISALIA – The Kaweah Delta Health Care District Board of Directors unanimously approved a proposal this week to establish a clinic to ensure that Tulare County residents get care to manage the nation’s leading causes of death and disability.
The 12,000-square-foot clinic, expected to open in May, will help people manage chronic diseases such as heart failure, hypertension, and diabetes at 325 S. Willis St. in Visalia. Managing such diseases is often a struggle for patients for a variety of reasons, said Regina Sawyer, Director of Care Management at Kaweah Delta Health Care District.
“They may not have access to care, they may need to be reminded to take their medications regularly or they may struggle with adopting recommended lifestyle changes. When they are not able to manage their disease, they end up in the hospital,” Sawyer said. “This is a chance to work with patients on an outpatient basis and keep them well.”
In addition, the clinic will coordinate care for people following a heart attack, before having open heart or valve surgery at Kaweah Delta Medical Center, or following the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, asthma, or bronchitis. As a result, the clinic is expected to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, reduce the length of stay for patients at Kaweah Delta Medical Center, and reduce 30-day mortality rates for patients.
Dr. Ronald Marconi, a family practice physician, called the clinic concept exciting during the Jan. 6 Kaweah Delta Board of Directors meeting. “It’s a very exciting concept when you read the literature and understand that this is going to have the most impact on patients with congestive heart failure,” Dr. Marconi said. “They are going to live longer if they get the proper care.”
At the clinic, patients will be seen by a nurse practitioner and, following care, they will return to their primary care physician. If a patient does not have a primary care physician, the clinic will link them to one for care. The clinic will offer infusion, complete on-site laboratory testing, with a future draw station, cardiology services such as electrocardiogram, echocardiogram and treadmill stress testing, along with x-rays, IV therapy, education programs, pharmacy services and more. The clinic would be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and would open on Saturdays for an additional day of infusion.