Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - January 7, 2011

Holiday Fund a big help to children at Axis Community Health

Thanks to the generous and continuing contributions of our readers to the Pleasanton Weekly 2010 Holiday Fund, Axis Community Health will soon join four other beneficiaries with a donation that will help this vital nonprofit meet the growing demand for health care from the thousands it serves who are still reeling from the effects of a weak economy.

The regionally-recognized service that Axis provides has won other needed assistance, too. In March 2009, Axis Community Health was designated a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) New Access Point and was awarded a $1.3 million grant over two years as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was one of just 12 community clinics statewide that were chosen to provide medical care to an additional 80,890 Californians.

For Axis, that meant serving an additional 4,000 patents and increasing its capacity to provide mental health and substance abuse services as well as medical care. Three-quarters of the way through the funding period, we offer this "spotlight" as an update to the community.

Sue Compton, executive director, said Axis has increased its capacity to serve patients at its Pleasanton and Livermore clinics and is adding an average of 400 new patients each month. It now offers extended hours for appointments four evenings a week (two evenings at each clinic) and on Saturdays. It also sees patients in general medicine every Saturday, pediatrics two Saturdays and Women's Health one Saturday a month.

Patients are charged for medical and behavioral health services on a sliding scale. With the FQHC designation, healthcare is more available because patients are offered more access points to care, depending on their level of insurance coverage. Of the 4,000 new patients seen since March, 2009, only 2,091 were uninsured. The remainder had some level of insurance coverage or were eligible for a government program.

The Axis staff has increased to 120-130 providers and support staff. If there was more space, Axis would be able to hire more providers and see more patients, said Axis' Director of Clinical Operations Christina McFadden. At this time, Axis is at maximum capacity at every facility.

Contributions to Axis from the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund will help. Axis uses this support for medical visits for kids. Medical visits average $200 each, which includes doctor visit, lab, X-ray, pharmacy and more, so Holiday Fund's grant will provide medical visits for well over 100 children in their time of need.

The other beneficiaries who will share equally in the distribution of the 2010 Holiday Fund contributions are Hope Hospice, the Ryan Comer Cancer Resource Center at ValleyCare, Open Heart Kitchen and the Valley Humane Society.

At last count, contributions to the holiday Fund totaled $138,318, including $50,000 in matching funds from Tri-Valley Community Foundation. The generosity of our contributors to the needs of these organizations shows that we're a community that cares.

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