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County closing Ceres Medical Clinic on Whitmore
• No interruption in services as Golden Valley Health takes over
Ceres Medical Office
The county will close the Ceres Medical Clinic at 3109 Whitmore Avenue on Dec. 1 but Golden Valley Health Centers is expected to open it or about the next day. - photo by Jeff Benziger

A number of Ceres families on Medi-Cal will not go without medical services when the county closes the Ceres Medical Clinic at 3109 Whitmore Avenue on Dec. 1. That’s because Golden Valley Health Centers (GVHC) plans to use the same facility to open its third clinic in Ceres.

Last July the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors ordered the closure of medical clinics it operates in Ceres, Hughson and Turlock.  Declining patient volume and growing costs were factors in the decision for the closure.

Taking over the county clinic in Hughson will be Livingston Community Health (LCH).

“We have worked very hard with our local safety net providers to take over operations in all three of those sites to ensure continued access to care for the communities there,” said Alisa Bettis, assistant director of Stanislaus County Health Services Agency (HSA).

The county is still in the planning stage with Golden Valley to come in right behind the county and continue providing medical services.

Tentatively the county HSA will exit Ceres on or around Dec. 1 and have GVHS open on Dec. 2.

The doctors at the Ceres site  practicing medicine at other sites in the area.

“Golden Valley has also hired and have providers in training to be able to staff that clinic,” said Bettis. “It was very important to us that as services are being transitioned that we don’t lose any providers and any physicians in the community and we have been successful with that.”

The county clinics provide primary care, including obstetrics and after-hours urgent care, specialty care and rehabilitation services. They operate as Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike (FQHC-LA) clinics by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration and primarily care for the underserved community. 

The county’s three clinics in Modesto will remain open because of heavy patient volume.

Golden Valley already operates two sites in Ceres. They are located at 1920 Memorial Drive and at 2760 Third Street. The Memorial Drive site also offer dental services.

While all counties are mandated to provide services for medically indigent adults, the decision of state leaders to implement the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) State optional Medicaid (Medi-Cal) expansion and to implement the Covered CA exchange program, has reduced the demand for the MIA program. Since January 2014 when ACA was implemented, the county has enrolled less than 15 unique individuals and has incurred relatively nominal costs. Before Obamacare and the 2008 recession, enrollment was approximately 9,000.

Fewer patients are being seen at the county-run clinics also because of the growth of other safety net providers including Golden Valley Health Centers (GVHC), a non-profit organization designated as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). 

Other factors pushing the county to close the clinics was the state diverted funding for the medically indigent programs to other state programs. The county has also had difficulty in attracting and keeping doctors for the clinics.