July 1, 2012
By Tracy Rolling
Ramona Home Journal
Almost a decade ago, a group of dedicated healthcare professionals alongside community leaders conceived an idea that would elevate the level of health care available in Ramona.
Their vision was to provide a state-of-the-art medical facility in Ramona that would offer primary physician services, outpatient diagnostics testing and urgent care.
Last month, that dream became a bona fide reality when Michael H. Covert, president and CEO of Palomar Health, invited members of the Palomar Health Board of Directors, Arch Health Partners physicians, and key community members to pick up a gold-tipped shovel and scoop dirt during a ceremonial groundbreaking for the center.
Under a vibrant blue sky in front of more than 100 guests, the ground was christened on what is being considered the first clinic of its kind in Ramona.
"We’re pleased to have the opportunity to honor our commitments to the citizens of the Ramona area,” said Covert. "We hope this facility will continue to be used and grow.”
Prior to the groundbreaking, brief statements were made by keynote speakers, including Marcia Jackson, director of Facilities Planning and Transformation for PPH, who was one of the original project leaders.
Jackson described some of the lively conversations the group had about selecting a location, leasing land or purchasing property, and even about new construction. She told the crowd how the group didn’t always see eye to eye, but that each individual was dedicated to making the 7,600-square-foot building happen.
Moments later, she read a proclamation from the County of San Diego recognizing June 20, 2012, as Ramona Ambulatory Care Center Day throughout San Diego County. She also invited community advocate Arvie Degenfelder to the podium and applauded her for championing the project from the get-go.
Degenfelder shared how the idea was inspired in 1974, when she first moved to the community and witnessed senior citizens leaving their beloved homes, families and friends due to the lack of local healthcare services.
Praising PPH and the facility’s tenant Arch Health Partners, Degenfelder said, "Nothing compares to the quality of healthcare Ramonans will receive with this new facility.”
The microphone was then handed to Stuart Graham, M.D., president of the board of directors for Arch.
Graham recognized community physicians, past and present, who have dedicated their lives to caring for area residents. In particular, he pointed out Dr. Michael Barker who retired from Arch a little more than two years ago and played an instrumental role in helping move the project along.
Barker said the groundbreaking is, "One giant step forward for the Ramona community. It will mean fewer trips down the hill for medical services, and improved paramedic care.”
Graham outlined how the clinic, expected to open in the spring of 2013, will enhance the overall wellness of the community and will be easy to navigate and patient-friendly.
The ceremony concluded with the groundbreaking for Ramona’s newest construction zone.
As the three-acre lot, located at 211 13th St., transforms into an Ambulatory Care Center, community members Dawn Perfect and Jack Rogers share how this is all part of a master plan.
"There’s a bigger vision here,” said Perfect, describing a vibrant community center that will unite healthcare services with the library across 13th Street and future services as part of Ramona’s Intergenerational Community Campus.
Jackson said she’s seen some exciting things transpire over the years, including when voters passed Proposition BB, a $496 million bond measure to upgrade facilities and build new ones, including the Ramona clinic, which will cost $6 million.
She says all of the milestones pale in comparison to witnessing the groundbreaking. "It’s definitely been worth the wait!”