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LEMOORE — After five years of planning and work, United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley opened its full-fledged center in Lemoore in June and had its grand opening celebration Wednesday at 250 E. Hanford Armona Road.

The well-attended opening ceremony introduced the community to the people behind the health center and allowed local officials to speak about it.

The United Health Center's President and CEO Colleen Curtis introduced the community to the new center along with Deputy CEO Justin Preas.

“I’m really proud of what our team put together for this event and the medical center,” Curtis said.

Also, Lemoore Chamber CEO Amy Ward, Kings County Supervisor Joe Neves and Lemoore Mayor Ray Madrigal spoke at the ceremony that was attended by around 200 people.

After the formal presentation, the attendees were invited to tour the facility.

The building contains 10 medical offices, seven dental chairs, three eye exam rooms and one behavior health room. It also has space and facilities to perform mammograms, other cancer screenings and lab work.

In the next year, United Health Centers plans to add a pharmacy to the Lemoore location, Preas said.

Preas said that having the pharmacy on site can allow the center to work with individual patients to find affordable options or the best method of payment.

Curtis said the health centers make an effort to work with patients regardless of ability to pay with or without insurance. She also said that they have staff members available to help people obtain health insurance.

Currently, patients are able to use the dental and medical services available at the health center.

The organization has hired a new optometrist for the location, who is to start in December, the director of optometry Surbjeet Mann said.

Mann said this will be the sixth optometry center the United Health Centers has opened. It will have the ability to do eye exams, retinal screenings and sell contacts and glasses.

The company also plans on opening optometry offices in Sanger and Selma in the next year, Mann said.

Dr. Sylvia Schultz, United Health Center’s board treasurer, said the opening of the health center in Lemoore was easy to support because it is aligned with its mission to provide health care to smaller rural communities in the Valley.

Curtis said when they first started the Lemoore project five years ago they could not find a location suited for what she and her team envisioned. So they opened what was planned as a temporary location next to Me-n-Ed’s Pizza. The United Health Center has decided to keep both locations open in Lemoore.

Curtis said the new location was definitely needed based on the number of patients that came to the four-year-old location.

On the tour, some attendees may have noticed how accessible the health center is to patients with special needs. For Dr. Marie Flores, a general family practitioner, she sees it as a happy accident because the rooms were designed with her in mind.

Flores, who is in a wheelchair, said that the one-stop medical center is super accessible for people with wheelchairs. Three of the 10 exam rooms have more room and have exam beds that are closer to the floor and can be adjusted to help her see patients and for patients to get in and out of the bed.

Flores said that the medical center will be great because of the fact that people will be able to get just about everything done at the center and not go to the emergency room for colds or any preventative services.

“The most important thing we do here is prevention,” Flores said.

Flores said that the staff tries to accommodate everyone that walks through the door.

Flores mentioned that most of the staff speaks English and Spanish. Flores also speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or chelsea.shannon@lee.net.

News Reporter

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