INDIO – In the days following the opening on March 12 of Loma Linda University Children’s Health – Indio, the largest pediatric clinic in the area, the patient load was light. On average, two to four children walked through the doors each day. Two months later, an average of seven to nine patients per day seek primary pediatric care.
That number is expected to grow exponentially as word of the clinic’s presence continues to spread, as pediatric services expand and as contracts with insurance companies are
Children’s Health – Indio, for example, is now accepting patients on the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP). Families with a moderate income that do not qualify for Medi-Cal, may qualify to get their children low-cost health insurance through IEHP Health Kids, which is expected to increase the pool patients.
At one point, more than 40 patients had either called or walked in from IEHP, looking to make Children’s Health – Indio their primary home, but the contracts were not quite ready, Dr. Alexandra Clark told Uken Report in a telephone interview.
“IEHP worked with us very, very, carefully, very closely, to try and make their side of it as efficient as possible and get us up and going so that now we’re able to service their members that have their insurance. We are starting to see growth of our IEHP lives,” Clark said. “And we have capacity to see quite a bit more than we currently have.”
Some parents who are eager to bring their children to Children’s Health – Indio might have to wait until they can enroll in appropriate insurance plans and there are only specific times they can do that.
“We’re seeing growth as more patients are hearing about us, know that we’re there, and choosing us as their insurance plan, which requires time and paperwork,” Clark said.
So, there is a natural timeframe in which growth occurs, she said. Clark is Division Chief of General Pediatrics and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
“Certainly we would love to be serving two to three times the number of patients we’re currently serving, but we’re there to do a service for the community and we’re going to see the patients that need us, and continue to be a resource for those patients,” Clark said. “As the patient load grows, we’re going to continue to see those as well. We certainly have capacity to continue seeing additional number of patients.”
There are more than 135,000 children living in the desert region, which was one of the driving forces behind the Indio-based clinic.
“We are ready and able to see them as they flood in,” Clark said.
In the coming weeks and months the clinic will roll out other services, such as urgent care, telemedicine, dentistry and other specialties. The nearly 13,000-square-foot building houses 20 patient exam rooms, three dental chairs and an X-ray room.
“We want our patients to thrive,” Clark said. “In pediatrics, that means whole child care. We care about the entire picture of what’s happening to their lives. Not just their physical health, but their mental health, their spiritual well-being, their family’s health, emotional health, behavioral health. Our goal is to really meet the needs of these patients in the community and these children in the community, globally, in a large scale way, you know, not just having another pediatric clinic in the area.”
The clinic is also home to a bottomless bookshelf, courtesy of Scooter Golden, to encourage reading and literacy. Any child who receives care at LLUCH – Indio will be able to take a book home.
To make an appointment or for more information about LLUCH – Indio, call 760-477-0733 or visit them on the web at lomalindakids.org/indio.
What once a vision, a dream is now reality and it’s only going to get better.