The Santa Rosa Community Health Centers has selected a new  location for its Roseland Children's Health Center, which is currently housed at an elementary school, that will accommodate the growing services by nearly quadrupling the size of the current site.

The network of federally qualified health centers signed a seven-year lease for about 3,900 square feet at Stony Point and Sebastopol roads, according to Dr. Meredith Kieschnick, medical director of the Roseland Center and the Elise Allen Health Center, both school-based clinics serving primarily low income patients and Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

The current space is a little over 1,000 square feet and contains no office or administrative space, Dr. Kieschnick said.

"It's really a big change," she said. "I think it's huge. It's going to be a tremendous change." 

With the new space at 711 Stony Point Rd., the health center will go from four exam rooms to 10, plus a room for classes and group education, a consultation room and an office for insurance applications, Dr. Kieschnick said. The centers plan to move into the new space in September.

It will also add another full-time equivalent pediatrician, which will enable the center to treat a growing number of patients, particularly children without health insurance. Currently, the Roseland Center sees approximately 8,000 to 9,000 visits per year, a number that could increase by 30 percent to 40 percent with the larger space and more staff, Dr. Kieschnick said. A dental hygienist will also be on site.

"In terms of visits, what we're capable of is really limited by space," Dr. Kieschnick said."Patients are having a hard time parking."

A federal grant of $500,000 is providing the primary source of funding for the new space.

Dr. Kieschnick said the network of health centers has seen significant growth, particularly in the realm of children covered under Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicare, because so few pediatricians accept Medi-Cal patients.

"Most pediatricians don't take Medi-Cal," she said. "The most growing part of Medi-Cal is children, so I want to be ready for them.

Federally qualified health centers receive a higher reimbursement rate for Medi-Cal patients than private practices.***[poll id="21"]

Kaiser Permanente is joining a nationwide effort to combat what health officials say is a growing epidemic -- obesity.

The Oakland-based HMO is combining efforts with the Centers for Disease and Control and HBO to produce "The Weight of the Nation," a four-hour documentary that aims to highlight the pervasiveness of the condition, which affects about 36 percent of all Americans and 17 percent of children.

Obesity in Sonoma County accounts for more than $436 million in lost productivity and health care costs, according to the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. Nearly $115 million is spent on health care costs as a result overweight and obesity in Sonoma County, and about $85 million worth of lost productivity is attributable to obesity.

Nationwide, the CDC puts the number at $147 billion. On average, an obese person costs $1,400 more per year because of health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other complications, including cancer.

The Institute of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation are also working on the project aims to tackle issue.

The four-part series begins airing today and tomorrow on HBO.***

Marin General Hospital's Cancer Institute received the "Outstanding Achievement Award" from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. Only 106 out of roughly 3,000 cancer centers in the U.S. have recieved the award, according to Marin General, and it has not been given to any other hospital in Marin, Sonoma, San Francisco or San Mateo counties.

The award recognizes cancer programs that demonstrate a commendation level of compliance with seven standards representing six areas of cancer program activity -- cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical management, research, community outreach, and quality improvement. The center was awarded an additional Commendation

The level of compliance with the standards is determined during an on-site evaluation by a physician surveyor. In addition, facilities must receive a compliance rating for the remaining 29 cancer program standards. Together, the 106 programs, including Marin General's, represent approximately 22 percent of programs surveyed during 2011.  To maintain their accreditation, facilities must undergo an on-site review every three years.***

Kaiser Permanente's Napa--Solano region recently awarded $800,000 in grants to local nonprofits in both counties, focusing on five key areas: access to prevention and primary care services; reducing obesity and overweight rates in adults and children; decreasing risky teen behaviors; prevention of community violence; and reducing health disparities.

Solano County Supervisors Barbara Kondylis, Mike Reagan and John Vasquez and Napa Mayor Jill Techel accepted ceremonial checks from Kaiser Permanente representing more than $800,000 in grants to their local communities. Grant awardees include 38 area nonprofits that focus on five key areas....

 Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Dan Verel, dverel@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4257.