Kaweah Delta expands in Exeter

Kaweah Delta Medical Center is expanding operations in the Exeter area over the next year say officials. The district continues to operate its rural health clinic out of four buildings on San Juan Ave – all part of the former hospital in town.

“We’re running out of room” says Dave Garrett who adds the rural clinics he oversees in Exeter, Woodlake and Lindsay – are each getting busier. The new Woodlake clinic opened this year is staffed by physician Rocio Medina, M.D. who went to Woodlake High and wanted to return to serve her community.

Helping to make more room at the Exeter clinic will be the relocation of their physical therapy clinic to a larger 2800 sf space in the Savemart shopping center on Visalia Road this fall.

Kaweah Delta director of therapies Jag Batth, says the specialty clinic now called Exeter Specialty Therapists, will take over a former chiropractic office in the shopping center near Subway, at 1131 W Visalia Rd, when they move in as of November or December.

“This new space will be a nice upgrade for both patients and practitioners, with lots more visibility,” suggests Batth. Services offered at the clinic will be physical, occupational and speech therapies with staffers for each. “We will have room to add more therapists too,” he says.

All three Kaweah Delta physical therapy operations in other towns will be rebranded ‘Therapy Specialists.’

Garrett says the relocation of physical therapy will offer more room to expand the Exeter Draw Station at the clinic on San Juan Ave.

Speaking of new blood, most exciting long-term for Exeter is the coming of six graduate medical students to practice here in July of next year – the first cohort of student docs that will exclusively train in Exeter under the guidance of Kaweah Delta physicians. Over three years the number will increase to 18 (six new docs a year) learning the art of rural oriented family practice in our town.

In February, Kaweah Delta received accreditation from the ACGME for its Family Medicine Residency Program, the first of five planned Graduate Medical Education (GME) Programs. The programs are affiliated with UC Irvine.

With the shortage of primary care physicians in Tulare County, the coming of  these resident physicians who have recently graduated medical school should help bring more expert practitioners here. By one estimate the county is short 15 primary care physicians for the population we have.

Garrett says his research shows about 60% of resident doctors who   train in an area – end up staying in that area when they settle down.

“People don’t understand the beauty of this part of California until you get off of Hwy 5 or 99,” he adds.

Kaweah Delta will establish GME residency training programs in the areas of Family Practice and Emergency Medicine in 2013, followed by a Psychiatry Residency program in 2014, and a General Surgery and Transitional Year program in 2015.

The district’s existing physicians appear to be behind the program with as many as 100 physicians affiliated with the district expressing an interest in teaching or mentoring the residents.

Garrett says affiliation of primary care doctors with Kaweah Delta will mean better “coordinated care” for patients adding that when you need to go to the hospital – your physician will already know all about you since he will practice there as well. Better yet – you will know him, or her.

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