|Jan 01, 2014 --
The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians has been meeting the health needs of its members and the surrounding community since January 2005 when they opened their health center in Tuolumne, Calif. The facility is owned and operated by the tribe and provides a wide range of health services including pediatrics, obstetrics, psychiatric and minor surgery in addition to general medical care. Since opening, the facility has grown and expanded to include a pharmacy and dental clinic, as well as a small satellite Health and Wellness Center in nearby Sonora.
The satellite Health and Wellness Center provided many general medical services, but they did not offer pediatric care. And with only four exam rooms in a little over 2,000 square feet they were limited in the number of patients they could serve. Over the past five years need at the facility has increased, and with changes to medical coverage on the horizon, an anticipated 7,000 new insured patients will be looking for medical providers in the county. In order to help meet these new demands, the tribe was looking to expand their facility and move to a larger building.
USDA Rural Development partnered with Tri Counties Bank in Modesto, Calif. on two Community Facilities loan guarantees totaling $854,655. Through the program, the tribe received affordable financing to purchase a two-story medical office building across the street from their existing center in Sonora. In addition, they purchased a variety of new medical equipment as well as new IT equipment including computers for each exam room.
The new building is more than triple the size of their old facility and will allow the tribe to expand capacity from four examination rooms to 13. With the extra space the Health Center is better prepared to serve more clients, as well as offer additional services. Parents can now take their children to the health center in Sonora for pediatric care, and an on-site laboratory will also offer new services. As well, the new IT equipment will help ensure that the new facility is connected and ready to help patients. The Health and Wellness Center had its grand opening in December 2013.