Petaluma Health Center signs lease for Rohnert Park location

[caption id="attachment_92050" align="alignnone" width="500"] Petaluma Health Center plans to open a new health center on the top floor of this 69,000-square-foot Rohnert Park office building, half-occupied by Kaiser Permanente. (Credit: Michael Polk)[/caption]

ROHNERT PARK -- Petaluma Health Center confirmed the location for a planned expansion to Rohnert Park and launched a campaign to raise money for the new primary care center, set to serve up to 15,000 people.

The federally qualified health center signed a lease with San-Ramon-based Meridian Property Company for the 35,000-square-foot second floor at 5900 State Farm Dr. and plans to open the new center next spring.

The health center will join existing tenant Kaiser Permanente in the 69,000-square-foot State Farm Drive building Meridian purchased for an undisclosed sum just a few months ago.

Petaluma Health Center will be seeking donations and grants for about half the $5 million capital campaign budget for the expansion, officials said. Scott Peterson of INDE Architecture will design the new center's space. A general contractor has not yet been announced.

In addition to proving a slew of primary care, dental and mental health services for residents of Cotati and Rohnert Park, the expansion for Petaluma Health Center will also result in an estimated 96 additional jobs, according to Ciera Rudin, community relations manager.

With the addition of Petaluma Health Center to the medical office building in Rohnert Park, Meridian Chief Operating Officer John Pollock said there is a "need for more medical service providers in the Rohnert Park market."

When Meridian acquired the office building in March, Mr. Pollock cited a relative paucity of primary care providers in Rohnert Park as a key motivating factor for the purchase. The city has a population of about 41,000 but only 53 licensed full- and part-time state-registered physicians registered there, a ratio of 1.29 doctors per 1,000 residents, compared with the national average ratio of 2.4, Mr. Pollock noted at the time. Around the property, there are 58,700 residents within five miles and 342,000 within 10 miles.

Neither Rohnert Park nor Cotati have a federally qualified health center. Yet Jewish Free Community Clinic does provide care for some 2,500 adults and children in Rohnert Park, regardless of ability to pay, and St. Joseph Health operates an urgent care center

Beyond Kaiser and the clinics, there is little else for primary care, and about 5,000 Rohnert Park--Cotati residents already commute to Petaluma Health Center's main campus on North McDowell Boulevard, officials said.

"Making services more accessible will lead to better health outcomes for our patients and the community," Petaluma Health Center CEO Kathie Powell said in a statement. "Rohnert Park has one of the highest rates of individuals in Sonoma County who are eligible for publicly subsidized health insurance but are not enrolled."

Likewise, Meridian said it targets such large-floorplate medical office buildings because of "the shifting demand in health care real estate market" and that such buildings "are a prime example of the kind of value-add properties" the company targets.

Meridian said it plans to upgrade the lobby and make an investment in further tenant improvements.

Petaluma Health Center’s Rohnert Park facility is expected to serve 5,000 patients in the first year with the potential of 15,000 in subsequent years, officials said. Services will include medical, dental, mental health, substance abuse, integrative medicine, pharmacy, optometry, and enrollment workers to assist uninsured individuals enroll in health insurance.

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