A public health clinic is opening for business in Hayward (Alameda County) next month at an unusual clinic site.
The Firehouse Clinic, built alongside Fire Station No. 7 in the southern part of Hayward, had its opening celebration ceremony last week and expects to start seeing patients by the end of December.
They’re not just neighbors, according to Alex Briscoe, who runs the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency.
“We’re trying to bridge the emergency medical system with the primary care system,” Briscoe said. “There are synergies there that we feel have not been fully explored.”
The paramedics next door at the fire station will not staff the health clinic. But it makes sense to have the two public services alongside each other, he said. According to Briscoe, about 85% of the emergency calls for the firefighter paramedics are medical.
“When you ask people in communities where the public buildings are, they’ll say schools and fire stations. Everyone knows where they are,” Briscoe said. “People in the community have seen these guys, the paramedics know them. They see them not as guys who put out fires, but the guys you see when you’re hurt.”
Briscoe hopes to leverage the “standing army” of paramedics in the area to form a joint effort with primary care providers to make the clinic much more than a clinic, he said.
“This is more than having them built at the same spot. We envision a common scheduling platform, for instance. We see a care and case management function,” Briscoe said. “We want to suppress inappropriate transports, suppress readmission and increase access, in real time, to primary care.”
Construction of the clinic was a collaborative effort between Alameda County and the city of Hayward. That area of Hayward has gone a long time without a public health center with adult care, Briscoe said.
“We would have been happy with a new clinic in that area of Hayward,” Briscoe said. “But we’re going to have a clinic, and then some.”