History and Accomplishments
The Russian River Health Center first opened its doors to the community of West Sonoma County in 1974 and the neighboring Occidental Area Health Center opened in 1976. After many years of collaboration, the two independent health centers formally merged as West County Health Centers, Inc. (WCHC) in January of 2000. For over 30 years, the health centers have been recognized as invaluable assets within the community and have continued to serve the growing and diverse needs of the people of West Sonoma County. Our service area covers hundreds of square miles stretching from Fort Ross to Valley Ford and from the Pacific coastline into Sebastopol, with an estimated population of 60,000.
“I feel honored to be part of an organization that supports, educates, and cares for their community day-in-day-out!
— MARAYA HULL, WEST COUNTY HEALTH CENTER STAFF
Since our inception, we have grown to become one of the finest community-based healthcare organizations in Sonoma County. We provide high quality, comprehensive health services, particularly to the growing number of underserved and marginalized populations in the area.
Beginning in 1998, we initiated an extensive facilities improvement program including the acquisition of a new administration building, expanding the number of exam rooms at both the Guerneville and Occidental sites, and remodeling the Russian River Dental and Mental Health Clinic.
West County Health Center was recognized and designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center in 2002, ensuring ongoing federal funding to care for low-income and uninsured patients.
In 2002, we established the first and only Teen Clinic in West Sonoma County, which moved to its own site in Forestville in 2003.
In 2008, we opened the Sebastopol Community Health Center as a paperless office, implementing the Electronic Health Record as a pilot program. In 2009 the Sebastopol Community Health Center became licensed as a stand alone site with expanded hours five days a week. Expansion plans are underway for this site for specialty services and to expand our capacity to serve the increasing numbers of uninsured in West Sonoma County.
In June of 2008 West County Health Centers was the first community health center organization in Northern California to "Go Live" with Electronic Health Records at Russian River Health Center followed by the Occidental Area Health Center in July. As a member of the Redwood Community Health Coalition we were able to participate in this 16 million dollar project, of which only four grant awards were given in the nation to allow access to Electronic Health Record technology for poor and underserved populations to further erase the disparity in health care services.
In 2008, West County Health Center served over 8,334 patients with more than 35,463 recorded visits including 1,500 teen visits, 29,418 individual primary and mental health visits and 4,545 dental visits, representing an overall increase of 21% in patient visits in the last three years.
In April 2005 West County Health Centers was given the Best Practices Award by the Sonoma County Youth Education and Employment Service Council for its Teen Clinic.
In March 2006 the Russian River Health Center was named a Sonoma County Public Health Champion for responding to disasters and assisting communities in need.
In October 2006 West County Health Centers was named a Hero in the Fight by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for ongoing dedication to the mental health of the community.
In September 2007 the North Bay Business Journal named West County Health Centers as one of the 2007 Best Places to Work in the North Bay.
In September 2008 the North Bay Business Journal named West County Health Centers as one of the 2008 Best Places to Work in the North Bay.
Occidental Area and Russian River Health Centers were incorporated in 1976 and 1974 by local citizens. In January 2000 a merger took place to create West County Health Centers. We are a private, non-profit, Federally-Qualified Health Center governed by a fifteen member volunteer Board of Directors.
- 1973: Russian River Health Center founded
- 1975: Occidental Area Health Center founded by local community groups
- 1989: Licensed as Rural Health Clinics
- 1996: Approved as Federally Qualified Health Center
- 2000: Merged to form West County Health Centers
- 2000: Teen Clinic Established
- 2004: Forestville Teen Clinic opened as stand alone site
- 2008: Sebastopol Community Health Center opened
- 2008: Electronic Health Records implemented throughout agency
- 2009: Sebastopol Community Health Center expansion begun