INDIO – Specialty pediatric services including behavioral health, neurology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, and dentistry have or are being strategically rolled out at Loma Linda University Children’s Health – Indio, the largest pediatric clinic in the area, with more to come as the patient need demands.
In the coming weeks and months the clinic will introduce specialty services, such as urgent care and telemedicine in the nearly 13,000-square-foot building. It houses 20 patient exam rooms, three dental chairs and an X-ray room to accommodate the 135,000-plus children living in the desert region who might need traditional as well as pediatric specialty services.
“We’re doing a structured and staged roll out, to ensure that we’re doing the specialty pieces right and that we’re doing it thoughtfully,” Dr. Alexandra Clark told Uken Report in a telephone interview. Clark is Division Chief of General Pediatrics and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
Neurology services are already being offered at least once a month.
Loma Linda Children’s University is currently conducting an analysis of the community’s needs to make sure it is meeting demand — and maximizing specialists’ time.
“We’re looking at the lists of patients that already access our system in each of those sub-specialty areas who have zip codes in that region, so we can reach out to them if they need a follow-up and let them know that we’ll be coming there. We want to make sure that we’re being thoughtful about it. It certainly doesn’t do anyone any good if I send a doctor out there on a day where I haven’t ensured that there are patients for the physician to see.”
By mining patient data, LLUCH can determine if it has X number of patients from the Coachella Valley who have made the 75-mile drive to Loma Linda to see our endocrinologist, for example. If so, it will consider adding an endocrinologist in Indio.
“It creates access in a way they didn’t have and that’s our goal, it’s to make sure they have access they need that’s timely, effective and efficient,” Clark said.
Look for the dental clinic to open sometime this fall. It will fill a vacuum in pediatric dentistry.
The majority of Coachella Valley children, 86.3 percent, or 85,686 children, have been to see a dentist at least once, Coachella Valley Community Health Survey 2016. However, 13.7 percent of children, or 13,564 children, have never been to the dentist.
The survey was conducted by Health Assessment and Research for Communities (HARC) and last updated on February 6, 2017.
Of the 85,686 children who have visited the dentist, most, 55.5 percent, visited before the age of three. Very few children, about 400, had their first visit after the age of 12.
Since opening on March 12, LLUCH – Indio is staffed with one full-time physician who’s working Monday through Friday. Health services are complemented on the weekend by a rotating pool of pediatricians from the main Loma Linda University Children’s Health campus. LLUCH – Indio is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday to accept well-check visits, walk-ins or sick visits, and call-ins for same-day sick visits.
“We want to be that little extra access for families so when the traditional doctor’s office would be closed,” Clark said. “You don’t have to go to an urgent care or an ER for a relatively simple thing that your family wasn’t able to get addressed during the week, because of either transportation or work, or maybe it was a sudden illness. We’re trying to be that additional resource in the community, by having Sunday hours. We welcome people to come during that time.”
Clark expressed her continued gratitude to the community for its support at all levels
“A great idea is a great idea, but it takes a whole team, a whole community of people, to make a great idea flourish into reality,” she said. “I think that’s been born out in this beautiful project to try and meet the needs of this community. I want the people of the valley to know that our goal is to make children whole and to serve the children of that community.”
Clark said she and the team and Loma Linda Children’s University welcome input on ideas and desired services. It doesn’t mean that it will be able to provide every service immediately but leaders are eager to learn what the needs are.
“We’re continuing to grow as a community,” Clark said. “We’re there for the long haul, to partner with that community and bring health and wellness to the children in that area.”
Children’s Health – Indio 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.
To make an appointment or for more information about LLUCH – Indio, call 760-477-0733 or visit them on the web here.