Stanislaus County's HIV clinic will move from the county health complex on Scenic Drive in Modesto to a medical office in Ceres, officials said.
Dr. Del Morris, medical director for the Health Services Agency clinics, said the move is intended to safeguard the HIV clinic against possible budget cuts to the state Medi-Cal system. The clinic, which once was connected with Stanislaus Medical Center, will move in mid-July to the county's Ceres Medical Office at 3109 E. Whitmore Ave.
"The state is going through an incredible budget crisis and there is a threat of losing Medi-Cal funding," Morris said.
The county's Ceres clinic is qualified by the federal government to receive enhanced reimbursements for office visits.
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In addition, many of the HIV clinic patients are treated by Dr. John English, a physician assigned to the Ceres office. English has traveled to Modesto once a week to work in the HIV clinic.
The clinic serves 169 patients who require regular visits to have symptoms evaluated, blood tests reviewed or medications changed.
Patient advocates said it's not a good move because many of the patients live in east and north Modesto.
Denise Gibb, director of the Stanislaus Community Assistance Project, said many of the Modesto patients will have trouble arranging transportation to Ceres. "It would be in their best interest to maintain it at Scenic or somewhere in Modesto," she said.
Kim, a patient who asked not to be identified, said the hassle of making bus transfers will cause chronically ill patients to miss appointments. "It's going to be hard for people with kids," she said.
William Owens, a 64-year-old patient from Modesto, said he requires regular blood tests. His doctor has been able to reduce his medications from 14 to three a day.
"I always think of the barriers to care," Owens said. "There are a lot of people who don't follow through with care and the more barriers you put up, the more problems come up."
Morris said there are bus routes between Modesto and Ceres and a bus stop at East Whitmore Avenue and Mitchell Road, near the Ceres Medical Office.
With the new clinic location, the doctor should be able to efficiently respond to calls from patients, he said.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2321.