Altura Health Centers opens new Tulare campus

The new Altura Centers for Health Tulare campus, where the building offers advanced services for pediatrics, OBGYN and reproductive health services and a new administration building that will streamline operations.(Submitted by the Altura Centers for Health.)

New facility on Cartmill Avenue offers advanced pediatric, OBGYN services after years of planning, construction

TULARE – Altura Centers for Health held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 20 to celebrate the opening of a new campus that has been in the works for more than a decade.

The new facility, located at 1134 E. Cartmill Ave., allows Altura to provide a wide range of services to the residents of Tulare and brings modern medical facilities to the hospital that has been a fixture in Tulare for 30 years. The new building includes advanced services for pediatrics, OBGYN and reproductive health services and a new administration building that will streamline operations.

The site also provides space to house the hospital’s mobile units that provide care for high schools, community schools and dental services. The mobile units have been stored on school campuses for years.

“Today marks a wonderful milestone for Altura,” Board President Juan Mota Jr. said at the ceremony. “We celebrate the grand opening of our new Cartmill complex. Our journey started in 2007. It has been many years of culmination, work, collaboration and dedication, and here we are today. It is more than just the complex and the health center, it is a testament to our Altura team’s commitment to our mission, which is to provide comprehensive, compassionate, high-quality health care for the people living in our community.”

The new Cartmill campus is currently open, though some services are still in the process of opening. Pediatrics will fully open on Monday, June 24. The OBGYN facility will open on July 1, but administration, IT and accounting have been in the facility for two weeks.

Altura first began work on the facility with a purchase of land in 2007 and another purchase in 2009. Planning and funding the project took several years and met significant delays with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, then further delays due to materials shortages particularly with electrical equipment necessary for the facility.

Altura CEO Graciela Soto said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette that it was a community effort involving numerous partners that got the facility over the hump and finished.

“Southern California Edison, they were amazing, they made sure we got everything going quickly because that was going to take a long time,,” Soto said. “The city, too. They were very supportive, and they did everything we needed. They did it quickly and made us go through it quickly.”

The new facility will add to the Altura network that includes nine locations to provide care to residents. Altura primarily serves disadvantaged communities and has a particular focus on ensuring that Medi-Cal patients have access to high-quality healthcare. The new facility offers opportunities for private and public health insurance patients to get quality care in a centralized location. Soto said the new facility alleviates the complexities of overcrowding the network has experienced over the years, particularly in the area of pediatric care.

“We had no room to grow anymore, so now that we have more room, we can hire more pediatrics,” Soto said. “The Valley is very young, and that is our highest volume in pediatrics. OBGYN is the other service. We are seeing there aren’t very many OBGYNs in the area, in the Central Valley. We are seeing many people from out of the area referring to us, so now we can hire again. We will be adding optometry – there is a huge need for the Medi-Cal population for optometry. There are long wait times.”

The increase in high-paying jobs through the development of facilities such as the new Altura campus are vital for success at the city level. Most cities, including Tulare, are heavily reliant on sales tax. Soto pointed out that the employees of the campus are likely to spend money at local restaurants and stores, as well as the families of patients who are taking advantage of the services available will add revenues to the community and directly improve revenues that allow the city to fund public safety, road repairs and dozens of other projects that will create a better future for Tulare.

“Every year since the clinic opened, I look at the satisfaction survey and one of the things they always mention is that they want more parking, larger waiting rooms, larger exam rooms, and they have got that,” Soto said. “They have got that. We are listening.  It took a while for us to get there but we are slowly getting there and we have all that now. We will keep on providing good care.”

Soto added that the new facility is also a vital link for the future because it adds space to expand training and education opportunities for individuals completing residencies. In the past, Altura has had as many as 100 students practicing, but she noted that space was very tight. Now, the students will have more room and a modern facility that promises to enhance the education opportunities available which will lead to better care for the Tulare community in the future.

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