[caption id="attachment_12355" align="alignright" width="99" caption="Beatrice Bostick"][/caption]

NAPA - In the wake of a sudden 20 percent surge of newly uninsured patients, Napa's federally qualified health center will soon construct a 3,500-square-foot pediatric center.

The clinic's director said the trend is indicative of the urgent need for national reform, a topic she will soon address at the first of several forums planned by a new local advocacy group.

"We are seeing a whole new group of patients we have never seen before - middle class couples and families that lost their jobs, or hours, or were with a small business that just can't afford to buy health care for workers anymore," said Clinic Ole Executive Director Beatrice Bostick.

The center recently received about $900,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and has commenced planning to install a new modular on a neighboring plot. The group hopes to begin preparing the land for the structure during the next few months while the actual building is constructed offsite. Ms. Bostick said she hopes to complete the project in 12 months or less.

Duplicating an integrated examination method currently used at the clinic for behavioral and physical health, the site will include both medical exam rooms and dental chairs. The idea is to give children dental examinations at the same time as their annual medical check-up or first visit to try and catch minor problems early before they develop into more critical issues. The same model is used for mental health. Patients are reviewed by a behavioral specialist at the same time as their first or annual physical examination.

The new site will include at least six pediatric exam rooms and two dental chairs.

As executive director of the area's safety net clinic, Ms. Bostick is on the front lines of the health care crisis she said will only be solved by massive reform of the system. She will discuss the issue with other Napa health care leaders at the first of several forums planned by a newly formed group called the Napa County Community Health Care Outreach and Reform Project.

The association of local business people, community leaders and health care stakeholders began loosely organizing about six months ago and will host its first event Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Napa.

Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, will join Ms. Bostick on the panel of the town hall-like meeting along with Napa Health and Human Services Director Randy Snowden, Napa Children's Health Initiative and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured leader Cathy Hoffman and St. Joseph Health System regional director of advocacy Chris Manson.

Reform project lead organizer Ira Saletan described the group as a non-partisan education and advocacy initiative supporting changes to increase accessibility, quality and effective utilization of health care resources.

"Our goal is to develop connections between stakeholders to try and look at what is at stake together and determine what we can do to make things better," Mr. Saletan said.