A rare opportunity for county supervisors and the Mark Twain Health Care District’s board of directors to dig in the dirt, took place on Sept. 28.
Dr. Randall Smart opened the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Valley Springs Health and Wellness Center with the acknowledgement of those in attendance who helped to make the vision of the clinic a reality.
Of those in attendance, were County Supervisors Dennis Mills and Clyde Clapp, the Board Members of the Mark Twain Healthcare District (MTHCD), Kim Vann, State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development in California, Kathy Gallino, Director of Economic Development, and Ken Cohen, Director of the Association of California Healthcare Districts.
The project has been underway for four years.
“I am so proud to be standing here, because I have actually been involved in this for the last four years. I’m kind of like the last man standing. I’m grateful to be standing because I’ve been through the loan process,” Smart said, to eruptions of laughter.
Ann Radford, vice president of MTHCD led the welcome speech, which was supposed to be given by Lin Reed, who is the president of MTHCD.
“I’m here in place of Lin Reed; she wanted to be here so bad. This is a four-year long journey that we’ve gone through,” Radford said. “It was shelved for a while – here we are today. We are so excited. We are so excited to have all of you here. We’re so excited to be here. We’re so happy with the USDA that they love us so much and gave us a loan.”
The $9 Million healthcare center will be a little over 10,000 square feet. The 300-day construction project started on Sept. 12, and is expected to conclude on July 9, 2019. This is phase I of plans for future development for the area.
Project Manager Pat Van Lieshout shared some of the progress that has been made. He shared that the goal is to get the ground capped before winter, since the soil has a high clay content.
“We don’t anticipate any issues other than winter – I think we can manage that if we get a good start,” Lieshout said.
Smart was optimistic about the improvements to the availability of quality medical care, as well as the economic contribution to the Valley Springs area.
“I would really like to tell you how economically fantastic this is going to be for the county and for the community. We are now looking at operational and financial models that put at full speed 30-35 employees in this building. That doesn’t sound like much if you’re from Sacramento, but for Valley springs and Calaveras County, that is a big deal,” Smart said.
Vann, a previous County Supervisor in Colusa County for 11 years, spoke about the great need of such services.
“I know how important these hospitals are to our rural communities – they are the baseline for rural prosperity. If we don’t have that service, no one is going to come recreate in our towns, put business in our communities,” Vann said. “(I am) so proud to be able to partner with a community like yours, that is so dedicated to this.”
Smart alluded to more projects that are in the works. The wellness center is Phase I – forthcoming, will be Phase II.
“You probably have noticed that there’s more land here. This is actually a 12-acre parcel. This clinic is one and a half to two acres. The Children’s Advocacy Center is maybe an acre. That sounds to me like there’s nine acres left. And guess what – we have plans.”
“As Dr. Smart said, we have some great visions. Our Board has been talking about other things. Yes, we have the clinic going – but we have also decided to break this down into phases. The actual wellness center is phase 1,” Al-Rafiq, a Board Member, said. “Everyone is excited about the first phase, but we’re not done yet.”
Smart, the MTHCD Board Members, Vann and previous MTHCD Board Member Ken McInturf took eight shovels and broke the ground where construction for the new wellness center will take place.