Monday, July 13, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 19

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 13th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 37 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 37

New urgent care proposal in Buellton could bolster health care services


The Buellton Planning Commission approved an item on Nov. 7 allowing a new urgent care facility into town.

The proposal came from Cottage Health, a 125-year-old nonprofit with a network of 600 physicians, under the umbrella of a volunteer board of directors from the greater Santa Barbara area.

Ron Biscaro, listed on the organization’s website as vice president of housing and real estate development, made his appeal to the Planning Commission in a suit and tie. 

“Last year, our board of directors made the decision that we should expand our services in this area as well as other areas on the Central Coast,” he said.

The Cottage Urgent Care Center has already agreed to lease a property at Crossroads Commercial Center located at 328 McMurray Road.

“We feel some of the basic primary care needs of many on the Central Coast have been underserved,” he said. “We’ve also realized, given the shortage of primary care physicians in our communities, that having an urgent care center in Buellton or other communities around the Central Coast is really important to ensure access to care.”

Concerns over primary care offerings statewide have been mounting. The Future Health Workforce Commission reports that California already has a shortage with 50 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents. That ratio is also reported locally on the Central Coast.

The ratio should be 60 to 80 physicians per 100,000, and the report indicates the situation isn’t improving. The commission says the state will have a shortage of 4,103 primary care clinicians by 2030 as population numbers grow. The report notes that more health care providers are implementing “team-based, patient-centered care models in which clinicians work collaboratively with other team members.”

The proposed facility in Buellton would not be home to any physicians, Biscaro said, but would be run by three nurse practitioners. Radiology would be available, he said, and staff would have a direct line to physicians in the network.

Cottage also expects a modest flow of patients. While other clinics in the network see upward of 50 patients a day, the health care provider network expects the Buellton location to see 15 to 20. 

It will also be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Biscaro said there’s a gap in health care availability between 4 and 8 p.m. when many doctors’ offices are closed.

The commission approved the conditional use permit despite one reservation voiced by Planning Commissioner Marcilo Sarquilla.

“I think it’s a great project, but it’s one of the worst parking lots I’ve ever been in,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll get an earful from the public.”

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