History and Accomplishments

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.  Both of these health centers were started by community members and utilized doctors from the National Health Service Corps.   After many years of collaboration, the two independent health centers formally merged as West County Health Centers, Inc. (WCHC) in January of 2000.
 

For 40 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.

“We are a team.  Everyone supports each other!"
— Jennifer Moore, RN Care Manager, Russian River Health Center
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. Today our services include medical, dental, and mental health care delivered through our six sites which include:  Sebastopol Community Health Center, Russian River Health Center, Occidental Area Health Center, Russian River Dental Clinic, Forestville Teen Clinic, and the Forestville Wellness Center.
 
The West County Health Centers Board of Directors is comprised of 15 dedicated community members with experience in business, law, real estate, human resources, education and healthcare.  Nine out of fifteen members of the Board use WCHC as their primary medical home and all fifteen live within the West County Health Center service area.  
 
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 2003, we established the first and only Teen Clinic in West Sonoma Countybased at its own building in Forestville.
 

In 2008, we opened the Sebastopol Community Health Center as a paperless office, implementing the Electronic Health Record as a pilot program.  Since then, Sebastopol Community Health Center has expanded to become our largest primary care site as well as a home for our specialty services such as orthopedics, neurology, and surgery consults.  We continue to optimize the functioning of our electronic health records, including expanded implementation of the Patient Portal, a secure electronic connection between patients and providers.  

In 2010, we expanded our HIV/AIDS program which began in 1986 at the Russian River Health Center when Dr. Marshall Kubota diagnosed the first case of AIDS in Sonoma County.  Since then our HIV program has become a model and a leader in the integration of HIV care in a primary care setting.  We recently began offering free HIV testing services at all sites, and conducted a very successful anti-stigma campaign to promote HIV testing.
 

In 2011, West County Health Centers opened the Forestville Wellness Center.  This unique site continues to expand and partner with other non profits to offer a wide variety of health and wellness services that would not typically be accessible to low income or government insured patients.  Integrative medicine, herbal consultations, and acupuncture, as well as classes including movement, nutrition, smoking cessation, pre-natal, and a drug abuse alternatives series are offered at Forestville Wellness Center to educate, support and empower our patients to create behavioral changes in their lives to improve their health and well being.   

In 2014, we completed a solar installation project at our two sites in Guerneville, the Russian River Health Center and the Russian River Dental Clinic. The solar systems have greatly reduced our energy bills allowing us to direct more resources to patient care. This project was funded through a $350,000 Federal HRSA facilities improvement grant.
 

Currently, WCHC has 8 Certified Enrollment Counselors trained to conduct outreach, education and enrollment for existing patients and other community members to obtain healthcare coverage available through the Affordable Care Act. In the first six months of implementation, we held numerous informational workshops and we assisted more the 3,600 people with the application process. Over 900 applications were submitted and more than 750 previously uninsured people gained access to health care coverage.  Our county has one of the highest enrollment levels in the State including many young people and adults who have been without a source of coverage for decades.  


Recent Awards

WCHC became a California Health+ Center, a statewide initiative sponsored by California Primary Care Association to promote community health centers.

WCHC submitted applications to the National Committee on Quality Assurance for recognition as a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home, a national model of health care that demonstrates improved care for our patients. 

WCHC was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a model primary care practice through the "Learning from Exemplary Ambulatory Practice Initiative, one of 50 practices selected nationwide.

WCHC Executive Director, Mary Szecsey, was elected as the Chairperson of the California Primary Care Association in 2013.


History

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