Kaweah Delta’s Tulare Health Clinic is now open and working to increase access to care in one of the most clinically-underserved counties in California.
Primary and walk-in care is available to patients from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the Tulare Health Clinic at 1000 N. Mooney Boulevard in Tulare. The clinic is accepting patients with all insurances whether it be Medi-Cal, Medicare, or commercial insurance. Appointments can be requested online at www.kaweahdelta.org/tulare or by calling 559-624-6358. The 10,800-square-foot clinic is located in the former IRS building on the corner of Prosperity Avenue and Mooney Boulevard. It has 20 exam rooms, a lab onsite for patients, and three behavioral health rooms for therapy, psychiatry and eventually, child psychiatry.
“We’re very excited about our holistic care model of integrating behavioral health with the medical care of our patients. We imbed Community Care Coordinators within all of our locations to work as team with the patient and the care providers to not just address the medical needs of our patients, but their social, mental and behavioral health needs as well. We will be expanding access to psychiatry, including child psychiatry, and specialty care later this summer,” said Ryan Gates, Vice President of Population Health for Kaweah Delta.
The Tulare Health Clinic welcomes Dr. Rogelio Fernandez as its medical director, a physician who has spent more than 30 years caring for people in the Central Valley. Additionally, Kaweah Delta welcomes to its patient care team, two very experienced nurse practitioners Kristina Komar, NP, and Padma Nayak, NP. Kaweah Delta is excited to expand upon its partnership with community physicians to bring primary care, walk-in, and specialty physician services to the people of Tulare.
“Often times patients who are underserved do not have resources for medical care and many times go without,” said Dr. Fernandez, noting that 80 percent of his patients have been Spanish speakers, the vast majority of which have been farm workers or lower income patients. “The fact that we’ve opened this clinic is going to provide a place for people to receive the care that they so deserve.”
Born in Mexico, Dr. Fernandez grew up in Parlier. Following graduation from Parlier High School and Fresno State, he attended University of California, Irvine’s School of Medicine. He completed his residency at UCSF Family Medicine and began to practice medicine in the Central Valley, but his passion for health started when he was just 10 years old. “My mother had twins and they were hospitalized in the ICU for a month. I saw the doctors working with them and helping them get better,” he said. “Ever since that moment, I said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ Just as these doctors helped my little brothers get better, I wanted to go into medicine to help other people get better. That was my inspiration.”
Both Dr. Fernandez’ and one of his twin brothers became physicians. “My youngest patient hasn’t been born and my oldest patient is 95 years old,” he said. “I treat all my patients as if they were family members. Everyone deserves to receive the best quality care possible. I always treat everyone as family because this person is someone’s mother, someone’s aunt. That could be my aunt, my mother, my sister.”
The Tulare Health Clinic is the latest addition to Kaweah Delta’s growing clinic network. Each of Kaweah Delta’s clinic locations – Exeter, Lindsay, Woodlake and Dinuba – were intentionally placed after studying Emergency Department volumes to determine where people were coming from to Kaweah Delta’s Emergency Department (ED) for primary care-related conditions, Gates said. Tulare residents visit Kaweah Delta’s ED more than 10,000 times per year. Nearly 2,000 of those visits are for lower-acuity chronic conditions that could more appropriately be provided in a primary care setting. Additionally, there is one primary care physician for every 2,350 people in Tulare County which is about one-half the number of primary care physicians the average county in California enjoys. In terms of doctor-to-patient ratio, Tulare County ranks 49th out of 58California counties. “We continue our intentional and targeted approach of how we strive to serve our community’s health needs,” Gates said.
Eventually, physicians and other providers at the clinic will offer specialty services such as cardiology, orthopedics, diabetes care, surgery, urology, etc.
The new Tulare Health Clinic accepts patients with all forms of insurance, whether it’s commercial insurance, Medicare, or Medi-Cal coverage. Providers will use Kaweah Delta’s Cerner electronic health record, ensuring that care in the clinic is integrated with the full breadth of Kaweah Delta’s clinical services. This means that physicians and care providers will have full visibility in the care provided throughout the Kaweah Delta health care system, enhancing our ability to coordinate care between the clinic, hospital, emergency department, urgent care centers, home health nursing, lab, radiology, etc.