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Clinicas working on night clinic

December 18, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Despite grumbling to the contrary, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo is still working with the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District to open a late-night clinic at the city's hospital building that has been closed since early 1998, according to Clinicas Director Louis Lerma.

On Monday, Lerma asked residents of Calexico to be patient as Brawley-based Clinicas, the Heffernan board and city officials try to bring the building up to code for a medical clinic.

Some residents and a hospital district trustee have grumbled lately about a perceived lack of action on the part of the district board and Clinicas to follow through with optimistic plans for a clinic hatched months ago.

Lerma addressed those critics.

"They are not aware of the requirements it takes," he said.

"The most I can convey to them is about what it is going to take to get the license. It's going to take about four to eight months to get a license for an outpatient facility after submission of the initial proposal."

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He said the proposal for a late-night urgent care clinic has not been submitted to the state Department of Health Services in San Diego.

"The application is not submitted because the backup information is not available," Lerma said.

On Wednesday Lerma and a Clinicas grant writer will meet with Calexico's mayor and mayor pro tem and two Heffernan board trustees to figure out a way to get that backup information. Backup information includes a structural analysis of the building.

That analysis has not been conducted, although the Heffernan board has received proposals from engineering firms.

The sticking point for the Heffernan board is the cost of the structural analysis and repairs that might be required after the firm checks out the building.

The Heffernan board has a limited budget and could ask the city for financial help during Wednesday's meeting.

Mayor Victor Carrillo said the council wants to hear from the Clinicas grant writer first.

"We need to find out what money is out there before we fix (the Heffernan building) up," Carrillo said.

"The bottom line is to get some medical service to the community," he added.

"Residents here are direly in need of hospital services and the population here certainly warrants a hospital but it has to pay for itself.

"And we'd have to find doctors that are willing to come here. It's a ‘If we build it, will they come?' kind of thing."

Carrillo would rather look into finding financing for a multi-million dollar hospital before spending money on the Heffernan building.

"We have to find out how feasible (the Heffernan) building is. We don't want to put money into a dying cow," he said.

Mayor Pro Tem John Renison agrees.

He said the council might help with "a little bit of money, but not much" to get the building up to code but does not want to see the council "spend city money to subsidize a white elephant."

Renison is worried that "this thing might get bogged down with Clinicas because of the cost to get it up to code."

Like Carrillo, he is looking at a long-term plan that would combine federal, state and private foundation assistance to "get a hospital here."

As for his expectations leading up to Wednesday's meeting, Renison said he would "listen to the proposals and see what's in the offing."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 377-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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