La Clinica has received a $650,000 federal grant to operate its new Central Point Health Center.

La Clinica has received a $650,000 federal grant to operate its new Central Point Health Center.

With operating funds in hand, the nonprofit health-care provider will shift its focus to raising $3.5 million to finish construction of the building at 4500 Hamrick Road that will house the clinic, said Development Director Maria Ramos Underwood.

The building was initially conceived as a new Mason's lodge, but the organization abandoned the project when it ran out of money. La Clinica bought the building late in 2006.

Ramos Underwood said the grant will allow La Clinica to provide health care for 3,500 new patients.

The grant requires La Clinica to provide services at the site within 120 days. To comply, La Clinica will install a modular unit at the site while construction continues, Ramos Underwood said.

The new 10,000-square-foot building will include 12 examination rooms and seven dental operatories. It will be somewhat smaller than the clinic's Phoenix site (which has 15 exam rooms) and larger than its west Medford site (nine exam rooms).

The renewable grant is one of 41 announced by the federal Department of Health and Human Services "New Access Points" program. It provides operating funds only.

Ramos Underwood said La Clinica has grown by more than 175 percent over the past six years, and receives about 20 calls daily from people who want to become new patients.

It was founded as La Clinica del Valle in 1988 to provide health care for migrant and seasonal farm workers in Jackson County. In 2001 it expanded its scope to serve the community at large, with special attention to those without insurance. Services are provided without regard to the patients' ability to pay, and on a sliding scale for those without insurance.

The completed Central Point clinic is scheduled to open in the fall of 2008. Without the new building, La Clinica would have had to close its practice to new patients.

— Bill Kettler