Access to care in rural areas of the Grossmont Healthcare District

The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) is continuing its support of Mountain Health & Community Services, a non-profit community health center that provides primary care services to low-income and medically underserved residents, many of whom live in rural San Diego County communities.

In 2017, GHD approved a $70,000 grant that supports Mountain Health in providing dental services at its newest health center in Campo, which opened last month. The GHD grant is expected to help provide dental care for more than 400 people in its first year of operation.

In 2016, GHD provided $1 million for new medical equipment at Mountain Health’s newest Campo facility, Mountain Health Family Medicine, one of the largest grants awarded since the establishment of the Community Grants Program in 1996.

Mountain Health Family Medicine’s service population is composed of residents in the highly rural Mountain Empire region, which is located in the southeastern portion of the Grossmont Healthcare District. Mountain Empire is one of the most medically vulnerable areas in the County, and has been accorded Primary Care, Dental Care, and Mental Health Professional Shortage Area designations from the federal Health Resources & Services Administration.

Across California, patients living at or below the federal poverty line may struggle with finding timely, affordable access to care close to home, especially in rural areas. A 2017 report from the University of California San Francisco’s HealthForce Center projects that California will continue experiencing a primary care provider shortage over the next 15 years, with Southern Border areas like Mountain Empire being among those that will be hit the hardest. The consequence, according to the report, is a trend of more and more Californians seeking care in the emergency room for basic conditions like asthma, ear infections, or the flu.

Judith Shaplin, president and CEO of Mountain Health, said the GHD grants enable Mountain Health to provide the purchase of equipment for primary care exams, surgical procedures, X-rays, on-site lab testing, and dental services including exams, cleanings, fluoride, sealants, fillings, X-rays, extractions and emergency services.

“We serve some of San Diego County’s most vulnerable rural residents,” said Shaplin. “Our new comprehensive primary health center will be a tremendous improvement for patients in the 950-square-mile Mountain Empire region. We’re expecting to see the volume of patients double in our first year.”

Mountain Health’s new 23,500-square-foot clinic in Campo replaces its 2,800-square-foot clinic a mile and half away on Highway 94 that has served as the major healthcare facility for rural Mountain Empire residents for decades.

Founded in 1975, Mountain Health operates six federally qualified health centers in Campo, Alpine, Escondido, Santee and San Diego. It also provides health services at several public schools in rural East Region communities. GHD has supported Mountain Health & Community Services with grants since 1998.

Residents of the Grossmont Healthcare District can save time and money by going to a community clinic, like Mountain Health, or an urgent care when a hospital emergency room is not needed. Click here for a list of clinics and urgent care services are located within District boundaries.