[caption id="attachment_24091" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Physician Assistant Christi Cannon (right) listens to the breathing of a Santa Rosa toddle at St. Joseph Urgent Care in Santa Rosa. "][/caption]

WINDSOR -- St. Joseph Health System will expand its urgent care services into Windsor with a new facility slated to open in the Shiloh Center by early November, becoming its third such facility in Sonoma County.

With the lease of 4,500 square feet at 6580 Hembree Lane, the new urgent care center is expected to see 6,400 patient visits throughout the first year of operations upon opening, officials said, with construction set for early September.

The new location is ideal for St. Joseph’s expanding presence as well as the community’s access, according to Todd Salnas, chief operating officer of the health care organization that includes Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals, as well as two urgent care centers, two hospices, two traveling health centers and a home care network.

Mr. Salnas said St. Joseph’s will make “a significant investment” at the new site “to bring it up to the standards we hold ourselves to at St. Joseph’s.”

“It’s visible from the freeway, so it will be a nice option for people looking for choices in treatment,” Mr. Salnas added. “We’re building this site in the same model as our other two urgent care facilities, with high quality care.”

Services at the new clinic will include diagnostics such as digital X-rays and lab tests; treatment for minor cuts and burns; care for sprains and simple fractures; treatment for cold, flu and other common ailments; physicals; and suturing wounds, among others, according to registered nurse Sheila Draper, nurse manager of St. Joseph’s urgent care services.

The clinic “will give Windsor residents who are seeking services close to home an easily accessible alternative to driving to Santa Rosa for care,” Ms. Draper said. The clinic will also have the capacity to draw labs and will have a nursing staff and radiology technicians on hand, Ms. Draper said.

The other two such clinics run by St. Joseph’s are in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park and saw a combined 29,600 patient visits, with more than 15,000 in Santa Rosa and 14,400 in Rohnert Park, respectively, during fiscal 2010, officials said.

Planning for the new center began about eight months ago, Mr. Salnas said.

Mr. Salnas stressed the access of quality care that will now be afforded to the area, noting that physicians, nurses and radiology technicians will be “providing a nice need for Windsor. And this allows us to expand on the needs for the community,” he said. “Each facility and provider has the role to play in the continuum of care.”

The expansion of urgent care and outpatient facilities will also help St. Joseph absorb new patients as preventative care becomes a driving factor in lieu of the health overhaul passed in March, Mr. Salnas said.

“Here at St. Joseph’s we are looking at economical options for people to get care close to home as a response to health care reform, and this will be a better option for [patients] to receive that care – and not just urgent care,” he said. “I think everywhere – rural and urban – having outpatient facilities in an efficient place will be convenient for everyone.”