With tough economic times in Stanislaus County, many residents are losing their health insurance because of layoffs or benefit reductions. In most instances, that means turning to local clinics for vital health care services.
For women in particular, the shift from a familiar physician to the unknown environment of a clinic can be intimidating. Their needs can run from pregnancy tests to mammograms to menopausal treatment. From teens to mature women, many medical needs and services are unique and require specialization.
The Women’s Resource Center located at the Oak Valley Hospital Clinic in Oakdale offers quality healthcare for female residents of Eastern Stanislaus County. Most insurance plans are accepted as is Medi-Cal and a sliding fee schedule is available for those who have no insurance.
David Rodrigues, Director of Clinics at Oak Valley Hospital, said he foresees services increasing not only because of the economy but because of healthcare reform and mandates for getting insurance in the future.
“With a shortage of physicians, clinics are also going to see a rise in demand,” Rodrigues said.
He credits much of the success of the clinic to the experience and commitment of the clinic staff.
“Our Nurse Practitioner, Sue Mealy, has 23 years of experience in obstetrics and gynecology and has been here nine years,” Rodrigues said. “She has built an envied reputation in the community and her patients respect and trust her judgment. She is very special and is surrounded by a team of skilled and caring providers.”
Rodrigues noted that the level of care provided at the clinic parallels that of a doctor’s office. He said that staff physicians oversee all medical direction and are present at 37 weeks of pregnancy and later, earlier if there are complications.
“The nurse practitioner is in constant communication with a physician,” Rodrigues said.
Sue Mealy started in the healthcare field in 1974 as a registered nurse. She said it is the teamwork of the clinic staff that gives their patients quality healthcare.
Mealy also has seen a rise in patients over the last few years, but still wants to get the word out about their services. Though the perception of a clinic offering less than ideal locations for healthcare is a comment Mealy has heard frequently, first time patients have been surprised when they enter the well equipped and well lit clinic.
“Circumstances now require them to seek alternative healthcare at a lower cost”, Mealy said. “Many are surprised to learn that our clinic may actually provide more extensive healthcare than they had before. For pregnant women, we provide pre-natal educational classes that they may not have had.”
One of the things unique about the Women’s Resource Center is its emphasis on follow-up with pregnant women. Once a woman has tested positive for pregnancy, the clinic has a program to follow-up and encourage the mother-to-be to participate in educational birthing programs and to be informed about post-partum depression. Mealy is insistent that follow-up is a critical part of the medical care and success.
Mealy has seen those who visited the clinic because they didn’t have health insurance still return after they were insured.
“That’s really validating,” she said.
The Women’s Health Resource Center is located in the Oak Valley Hospital Clinic at 1420 West H St. in Oakdale. The Women’s Resource Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are recommended by calling (209) 848-4180.