In the Media
West County Health Centers has appointed Ellen Bauer as chief administrative officer, effective Feb. 10. Bauer joins the community health system after a 16-year-long career with the county of Sonoma, where she most recently served as director of public health, managing a staff of over 200, the health organization announced Jan. 3.
West County Health Centers’ CEO Mary Szecsey was a recipient of the 2019 North Bay Nonprofit Leadership Awards
View a video of Mary Szecsey’s acceptance speech here
The nurses’ station at the Russian River Health Center in Guerneville is a cramped room with a computer station on each wall for the center’s lead medical assistant and three nurses.
The room is connected to another medical office, a narrow space that looks more like a hallway. Nurses, doctors and medical assistants deftly navigate their tight quarters, providing health care to some of the most vulnerable residents in Guerneville and other lower Russian River communities.
“It’s not an ideal setting,” said Jerry Elliott, a physician assistant at the Russian River Health Center. “It’s a good building, but the soundproofing isn’t great and the insulation isn’t great.”
The clinic’s modular buildings were erected less than a year after an arson fire in late 2015 destroyed the original Russian River Health Center. Even that building, a converted residence used as a community clinic since 1974, was less than ideal.
Now the Guerneville clinic is going to get a modern home. On Friday, operator West County Health Centers broke ground on the $14 million Russian River Health & Wellness Center and expects to finish construction and open the 10,000-square-foot medical and dental clinic’s doors by late 2020.
Mary Szecsey greeted a healthy-looking crowd at a groundbreaking ceremony for Guerneville’s new Russian River Health & Wellness Center last Friday.
“Today is all about appreciation,” Szecsey told the nearly 200 people gathered under a majestic oak on First Street where the new clinic is going up.
“We love this site,” said Szecsey, standing on the nearly two-acre property overlooking the Russian River west of Johnson’s Beach. With its administration offices and medical clinic augmented by walking paths, gardens and outdoor class space, “It’s such a wonderful place. It really takes the Russian River Health Center to a whole other level.”
Construction is scheduled to get under way this summer, and the $14.2 million center could open next year, offering medical, dental and behavioral services in a “health center of the future,” said Szecsey.
The West County Health Centers’ clinics in Guerneville, Sebastopol, Forestville and Occidental are part of the national Community Health Center Program, the federally supported health care project that helps keep medical care accessible for more than 15,000 patients in western Sonoma County.
National Health Center Week starts next Monday as an annual celebration to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers over the past five decades. This year’s Health Center Week will celebrate the ways that health centers are “rooted in communities.”
In Guerneville they’ll break ground on the Russian River Health & Wellness Center, a state-of-the-art facility where medical, dental and behavioral health services will be consolidated under one roof. When it’s done the West County Health Centers facility will replace the temporary modular buildings at Third and Church streets where a fire destroyed the river’s medical clinic four years ago.
After more than 40 years WCHC is now providing health care to 15,000 patients who receive full-service medical care from clinics in Occidental and Sebastopol and the teen clinic and wellness center in
Congratulations to Dr. Trina Bowen of Occidental Health Center for being awarded the Reader’s Choice for Best General Physician in Sonoma County.
West County Health Centers was awarded the Reader’s Choice for Best Healthcare Clinic in Sonoma County
West County Health Centers needs cash donations to help provide direct support for flood victims through a West County Health Centers Patient Hardship Fund, the health center announced last week.
“Most patients seeking care at the clinic in Guerneville are seeking help refilling prescriptions lost during the chaos of the flood,” said WCHC Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. DeEtte DeVille, who is also medical director at the Russian River Health Center in Guerneville.
“Now that people are deep in cleanup, bacterial infections and intestinal bugs could be next,” said DeVille, in a media announcement of the fund last week. “In the near future, we anticipate an increased need for behavioral health services to help our patients cope with the hardships that come with surviving a flood.”
Public transportation vouchers, co-pays to replace prescriptions, durable medical equipment, emergency nutritional needs, identification replacement and other small emergency needs will be funded with the for hardship fund donations.
West County Health Centers, which operates clinics in Guerneville, Occidental, Sebastopol and Forestville, is helping its patients recover from the physical and mental toll left by the region’s worst flood in two decades. The clinic in Guerneville suffered $200,000 in missed appointments, a damaged furnace and cleanup costs, said Jennifer Neeley, associate director of development for West County Health Centers. The nonprofit has been operating in the county for over 40 years, offering services to everyone regardless of medical coverage. Although the clinic was without power for several days during the storm, it has since reopened and is seeing patients, Neeley said.
“People have been really responsive to our efforts to keep supporting flood victims and our cleanup efforts,” she said.
GUERNEVILLE — Parting her patient’s blonde hair in an exam room Tuesday, Dr. DeEtte DeVille took a closer look at a bruise incurred when Colette Bias tripped and fell into waist-deep water during last week’s flood, hitting her head on a tree branch.
“I don’t see any broken skin, did you notice blood?” asked DeVille, medical director of Russian River Health Center in Guerneville.
“No, just a really bad headache,” said Bias, 50, of Monte Rio, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
DeVille ordered medications for Bias to pick up at the pharmacy — she’d lost a bag with some belongings when she fell — including an ointment for a rash she’d developed on her face and legs.
When the Russian River flooded its banks last week, its fast-moving murky waters created a potential health hazard for people trying to get out of the area or, like Bias, seek supplies such as fuel and food. The floodwaters receded Friday after thoroughly tossing the contents of thousands of garages, RVs, vehicles, businesses and homes in the towns along the river, and leaving behind a mixture of sewage, gasoline, chemicals and mud.
Most just call it the “flood crud.”