Pleasanton Weekly

Column - November 26, 2010

Axis needs our help

by Jeb Bing

Drive by Axis Community Health's aging facilities on Railroad Avenue any weekday morning and you're likely to see patients waiting to see a doctor or nurse that Axis provides. They are among the thousands of needy in the Tri-Valley who rely on this community health organization and its clinics for basic health care. They are not all poor, although many are. Some have lost their jobs and the health insurance that came with them and now can't afford private care. Others work in hourly jobs where health care is not offered or too expensive.

But no matter what their reasons, Axis, with an annual budget of $9 million, serves more than 14,000 members of our community at its Railroad Avenue clinic and at four other sites in the Tri-Valley. It's supported by local, state and federal funding, foundation grants, patient and clinic fees from those able to pay, and from the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and the business community.

Among these, the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund is a regular contributor, with donations from our readers and matching funds from the Tri-Valley Community Foundation now totaling more than a quarter-million-dollars since the annual giving program was launched in 2002 with Axis as a charter beneficiary. This year, with the Holiday Fund's goal of $100,000, including matching funds, Axis should receive another $20,000. That will provide additional pediatric care and cover rising administrative expenses, including utility and communications bills, according to Sue Compton, Axis' chief executive officer. It will also help cover part of the costs of new patients, which number about 400 each month in these recessionary times.

The biggest increase has been in pediatrics, which has seen a 10 percent increase in need over the past four months. Even though parents still have jobs, many of those work for companies that have had to cut back on health insurance just to stay in business. If one spouse loses the job, there's even less money available for health care and parents make the obvious choice to feed their children. When kids are sick, Axis is there for them. The nonprofit goes beyond urgent care, however. It also makes sure that these children stay healthy and immunized. That's one less worry for parents who can't afford the higher cost of daycare for sick children.

To meet its higher patient care load, the Axis staff has increased to 130 providers and support workers. Christina McFadden, Axis' director of clinical operations, said she would hire more if Axis had more space. A study group is evaluating the cost and funding abilities for rebuilding the Railroad Avenue site or establishing a larger facility nearby. Yet, despite its bursting-at-the-seams situation, Axis serves every newcomer. It never turns anyone away, although the lines you see on weekday mornings show that there's a bit of a wait usually. A few more dollars in this year's Holiday Fund grant could help. Please join me in becoming a 2010 Holiday Fund contributor.

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