CALEXICO — Until recently, Calexico residents would drive to El Centro or Brawley to be seen by medical specialists. That is changing with the Feb. 19 ribbon cutting marking the opening of the renovated Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District Calexico Health Center at 450 E. Birch St.
It expands its scope of services in four areas–primary care, express care, pediatrics and women’s health, Pioneers spokesman Frank Salazar said. That approach won rave reviews from those attending the ceremony.
Irma Margarita Ortega and Rosa Maria Benitez (her home service worker) were among those enjoying the ceremony and adjoining the health fair. Ortega lives in senior apartments close to the Health Center.
Ortega said “esto es precioso,” meaning it is precious, and added she was so happy because the clinic is so close to where she lives.
Benitez added, “I live very close (to the Health Center) and they give you quick service and excellent service. I am so glad they made this to help the community of Calexico.”
Melitona Gin and her husband, Jesus, came with Melitona’s mother, Felicita Gallardo, and their granddaughter, Luna Gin, 2.
“My mother, husband and granddaughter have all come here in last few months, and we have received very good services,” said Melitona Gin.
She added she was very happy to see physician Clara Padron-Spence and personally thanked the doctor for previous care for her family. Padron-Spence said she was very honored and reminded Melitona that she was at her disposal from Monday to Thursday at the Health Center.
During the ceremony, Padron-Spence said, “What always was a dream is now a reality.”
The expanded clinic will allow physicians to see more patients and provide specialized services in their area, she added.
Construction for the $4 million expansion project started in 2018 and was completed late in 2019. It included a renovation of 7,600 square feet, an additional 1,600 square feet for a common lobby/entry, and improvements to the parking lot with a local transit drop-off area. With its 30 exam rooms, the Health Center is prepared for current needs and growth, PMH officials said.
In a separate interview during the health fair, Padron-Spence explained, “I grew up in El Centro and after college and medical school, I worked at San Diego. After several years, I came back and opened up my private practice for 10 years and then seven years with Pioneers. Our goal is to treat the family, and this clinic gives me that opportunity and I serve the whole family.”
The clinic marks a major improvement in healthcare for the border area, Pioneers District Board President Maria Aguilera said in an interview.
“This is such a positive creation for the south-end community because it is used by Calexico and Mexicali populations, as services were not available in the past,” she said. “We will be able to have obstetrics in the near future. What a difference. This is an amazing thing to happen to come to our community.”
The clinic will be open 7 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
This story is featured in the Feb 27, 2020 e-Edition.