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Health Care Networks Expand On Central, South Coasts To Try To Fill Gaps In Service


The South Coast’s newest medical clinic might seem a little oddly placed at first.  It shares a parking lot with a Starbucks and is across the way from a Home Depot. But that's part of the point: making health care more accessible is the goal of an ambitious project by a provider to add 10 new urgent care centers to the region.

Santa Barbara based Cottage Health is expanding its footprint, opening 10 clinics from San Luis Obispo to Oxnard.  Cottage’s new Goleta Center opened in June.  This week, it opened a new facility at the Esplanade shopping center in Oxnard.

Dr. Christopher Flynn is Director of Cottage Health’s Ventures in Urgent Care.  He says they are trying to help fill a void in primary care physicians in the region.  Flynn says they are not trying to take patients away from other care networks, and will actually refer them to local ER’s or doctors as needed.

Taryn O’Connell is Cottage’s Administrative Director of Urgent Care. She says they are trying to help fill a health care gap.

Flynn notes the coronavirus crisis has made some people reluctant to visit medical facilities.  He says while the centers are making healthcare more accessible, if people have serious issues they need to know the region’s hospitals are safe, and they should come.

The new Cottage facility in Oxnard isn’t doing coronavirus testing, but its six treatment rooms include two set up for the safe examination of people who may have the virus. 

O’Connell says in addition to making the center physically easily accessible in a shopping center, they are also trying a unique approach to keeping it affordable.

For those without insurance, they are offering a $189 dollar flat rate fee for visits.  The charge includes the medical consultation, plus any other care which might be needed during the visit, like an X-ray or lab test.  There are no add-on fees.

Cottage officials say their goal in expanding is to make the care easy to get to, affordable, and efficient, with a target of getting people served within a half hour of arrival.  Eight more facilities are planned, including an expansion into San Luis Obispo County.

Cottage isn’t the only health care network on the Central and South Coasts expanding its footprint.  On the Central Coast, Dignity Health opened its sixth urgent care clinic this week.  It had facilities from Atascadero to Lompoc, but added a facility in Solvang which offers both primary and urgent care.