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San Francisco Neighborhood Health Clinics Begin Rare Renovation Process

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- In 2016, San Francisco overwhelmingly approved Measure A to raise money to improve health services in the City. Three years later, a major renovation project is underway for three of San Francisco's neighborhood health clinics and officials say the benefits will be felt by the entire city.

For 50 years, the Maxine Hall Health Center in San Francisco's Western Addition has treated mostly low income people with no private insurance. But in November, the clinic and two others began the rare process of renovation.

"It does not happen all that often in San Francisco," said Anna Robert, Director of Primary Care for the San Francisco Health Services Department. "This is a major investment by the city. It's about $63 million in total and many of these sites have not been renovated for years and years."

At the Maxine Hall center, the building will be seismically strengthened and cramped exam rooms will be reconfigured and made more accessible. And because it only has stairs, the clinic cannot use the second floor for patient care. The addition of a new elevator will mean 7 new treatment rooms.

"We've been OK because we've had most of our services on the first floor," Robert said, "but, really, we were under-utilizing an entire second floor of the clinic."

She says the same thing is happening at the Castro/Mission Health Center. And at the Southeast Health Center in Bayview/Hunter's Point, a new two-story addition will be constructed in the adjoining parking lot.

Robert says it's vital to be able to offer both medical and mental health services in the neighborhoods where low income residents live. Back in the Western Addition, Timothy Madison says having a clinic nearby has been an incentive to take better care of his health.

"Why wouldn't I want to take care of myself when they have a clinic right in the neighborhood?" he said. "It beats getting on the bus or having to drive somewhere else."

And while the cost of the renovations isn't cheap, Robert says the entire community ends up paying a high price when people don't have effective health care.

"They're in the hospital, they can't work…I mean, it's just a compounding problem if we don't do a good job," she said.

Clinic officials say the renovations will allow them to do a better job of keeping residents healthy and maybe out of hospitals, fulfilling the promise made to voters three years ago.

The Bayview/Hunter's Point clinic will stay open while the new building is being constructed. The other two centers have been relocated to temporary locations. All three projects are scheduled to be completed within two years.

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