Expansion from existing center to meet estimated 20,000 new patients

[caption id="attachment_29746" align="alignright" width="360" caption="The new center is the largest building project in Petaluma according to Building Project Manager Daryl Johnson. "][/caption]

PETALUMA – The Petaluma Health Center’s expansion into a 53,000-square-foot building will both double the size of the current location and will recycle nearly 90 percent of demolished materials during construction.

The new center, at 1179 North McDowell Blvd., will replace the existing location on Southpoint Boulevard that is a fraction of the size, and will soon reach the second phase of construction, the center said.

The first phase of construction was funded, in part, by an $8.9 million federal grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Total cost of the project is approximately $15.5 million.

An estimated $3 million in funding is needed for the second phase of construction, and will likely come through a mix of private funding and a capital campaign, a spokeswoman said.

The new center, previously an office building constructed in 1985, is the largest building project in Petaluma, employing an average of 30 to 50 people with more than three quarters of subcontractors and suppliers from the North Bay, according to Building Project Manager Daryl Johnson.

[caption id="attachment_29745" align="alignleft" width="108" caption="Daryl Johnson"][/caption]

Mr. Johnson, hired in April 2010, said the new structure was completely gutted. It will also have numerous features to reduce energy and will be certified as an Energy Star rated building.

One of 85 federally qualified health centers in the country to receive stimulus monies, the center, following a national trend, is expanding rapidly – 20,000 new patients are expected within the next few years on top of the 15,000 patients from Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Cotati it already serves.

“We have a need and we demonstrated that need,” said Holly Butler, the center’s director of community relations. Staff at the health center will increase from 110 current employees to 160 by the end of 2011.

The new building was purchased last June after the health center received a $5.87 million loan from Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group, which has a California program that is a 20 year, $200 million fund for centers that provide health care for the underserved and uninsured.

The new location is slated to open June 1 and will have 42 medical examination rooms and nine dental exam rooms. Previously, the center had one dental exam room. A separate OB-GYN section and an area for behavioral health are among the expanded offerings at the new location.

A second phase of construction will include a demonstration kitchen that should be completed by mid to late summer, depending on design acceptance and permitting, Mr. Johnson said.