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New facility near airport offers dental other services that used to require travel

[caption id="attachment_16536" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Santa Rosa veterans clinic moves to new site double the size. The facility hosted a grand opening Nov. 6 and will begin providing added services in the coming months."][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – The Santa Rosa VA Clinic opened the doors to its new, greatly expanded medical center last week, offering veterans an array of new services previously only available in San Francisco.

“We have seen an influx from returning Afghan and Iraq veterans and also just the downturn in the economy. It’s great to know we have the capacity to serve those in a time when they really need it,” said clinic Administrator Audrey Stephens.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs North Bay health care provider hosted the grand opening for the 21,000-square-foot outpatient clinic Nov. 6, though care was officially transferred to the new location last month. The site is about double the size of the previous facility, which was housed near Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa on Chanate Road.

The VA commenced tenant improvements to the office in April, taking about half the building developed by Reno, Nev.-based Basin Street Properties. The space at 3841 Brickway Blvd. about is half a mile from the Sonoma County airport.

TLCD Architecture Principal Jason Brabo created designs for the clinic, which includes 14 exam rooms and two treatment rooms. He has more than 13 years experience designing in health care, including the drawings for the new Kaiser Permanente hospital tower in Santa Rosa. He incorporated some green-building measures into the design, including the use of sustainably produced materials.

“It was challenging and exciting because it was taking some very diverse programs and functions and fitting them all into one location that really expresses respect to the patients they serve without that feeling of being in a rat's maze,” he said.

“Also because they would like to stay there as long as 20 years, I had to make sure it was flexible and that it would last.”

VA patients will have access to dental surgery in Santa Rosa for the first time. Other new services include physical therapy, on-site blood and x-ray processing, optometry and podiatry services. The clinic also added a second, upgraded “hearing booth,” which helps diagnose and treat ear problems.

The clinic is still in the process of hiring additional health care professionals in dentistry, physical therapy, optometry and dermatology. In total, officials hope to add about 30 providers in the next year, up from the current staff of about 40. Ms. Stephens said she also hopes to provide eyewear dispensing sometime in the future.

The new building will expand services in another way by incorporating telemedicine technology. A conference room in the office is hooked up to a live-feed to San Francisco physicians, who can lead group education sessions for mental health, chronic illness and other treatments.

“The video conferencing equipment really expands our capabilities enormously. Since we do not have the budget to have all of the staff or services we would like, this is a great way to offer our patients more,” Ms. Stephens said.

The coordination will also cross over into the clinic’s new radiology services. Once scanned, the digital image is sent to San Francisco doctors in real time.

The clinic currently serves about 5,000 patients. The care is offered at no cost to some and for a co-pay to others, depending on income and disability rating.