TOPPENISH, Wash. — After years of cramming doctors, nurses and patients into its small space on West First Avenue, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic is planning to build a new facility next door.
More than a year ago, the clinic bought the defunct Red Apple Market at 512 W. First Ave. for $650,000, and plans to raze the structure to make way for the new clinic. The store, which closed about two years ago, is on a roughly half-acre lot.
At best, working conditions are cramped in the existing 20,000-square-foot facility and patient numbers continue to rise, said CEO Carlos Olivares.
“We want to assure we have capacity,” he said.
Details about the new clinic — including size, design and cost — aren’t yet available because the project is still in early planning stages, he said.
The clinic will continue to operate in its present location while the new one is being built. Once that’s done, the current clinic will be demolished and a parking lot will be installed in its place, he said.
Olivares said construction probably wouldn’t begin this year, but he estimates the facility would be complete by about mid-2016.
Plans for the project come 11/2 years after the clinic built a new 22,000-square-foot, two-story administration building on Elm Street, next to Pioneer Park. The clinic purchased the property for that project in 2004 and it was completed in August 2012.
The clinic’s roots are in Toppenish, where it began 35 years ago. Its main clinic is still housed where it began, in a building that was a former Chrysler auto dealership.
Now, the clinic has more than two dozen offices and clinics throughout Eastern Washington and Oregon, employs more than 1,150 people, and has an annual operating budget that’s grown from roughly $850,000 to about $140 million. In the past six years alone, clinics have been established in Prosser, Pasco, Spokane and Hermiston, Ore. Offices for dental work and WIC, a federally funded health program for women, infants and children, also have been added.
The clinic serves more than 120,000 patients annually, more than 19,000 a year in Toppenish alone. And that number is expected to grow as the organization recently signed up an additional 20,000 patients, many of them in the Lower Valley also who did not have health care coverage before the Affordable Care Act, said spokeswoman Gina Popovic.
“We know there’s a lot of people in the Lower Valley that need health care,” she said. “There is always going to be more need.”
Toppenish will always remain the organization’s headquarters, she said.
“That’s our heritage, that’s were we started,” she said. “I think we have a lot of pride in Toppenish — we have no intention of ever moving our headquarters from there.”