What if I told you there is an organization that began in a basement and now touches the lives of 1 in 4 people in Shasta County every year? Based on the belief that every citizen should have access to decent healthcare that they can afford, the Shasta Community Health Center (SCHC) has grown from humble beginnings in the early 1990s to being a crucial piece of the puzzle in local patient care.
This great story of vision, compassion and growth is one that has not been often told, and that might be because a good portion of the people served are themselves, living in the shadows of society. I hope to shed some light on this organization, and I would guess you will learn more about the Health Center than you previously knew.
If I were to name an author of this story, or at least the protagonist, it would have to be CEO, Dean Germano. He would be the first to deflect that notion, but the reality is that under his leadership, the organization has flourished and might have even surpassed his own expectations. Germano, a native of Canada, arrived at the Community Health Center in 1992, as its 3rd administrator in less than a year. At that time, the organization was operating out of the basement of the former Shasta General Hospital. There was an annual budget of $2.5 million and a staff of 23. Today, the Health Center boasts an annual budget in excess of $57 million and a staff of 470 people, with 100 of those being medical staff.
How did they grow? Becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) was one significant reason. “When we applied to become an FQHC the federal grant application looked more like a phone book,” Germano says, “I hand-delivered the thick application to the post office in downtown Redding and personally made sure the postmark was applied at that moment since it was the day it was due. We were elated when we found out we got funded – one of only 30 in the country at that time.”
Access to healthcare was another boost to the trajectory of the organization. Before the Affordable Care Act, 25% of the Shasta County population was uninsured. That number is now estimated to be 6-7%. Regarding the importance of health insurance, Germano, who is a past Board Chair of The California Endowment, a philanthropic Health Foundation, asserts, “For our patients, when they come in, insurance matters, not in the payment WE get, but in what it enables us to do to help them”.
Working in compliment with Mercy Medical Center, Shasta Regional Medical Center, Shasta College, and the public sector, the Shasta Community Health Center continued to expand services.
The Health Center partnered with Shasta College and the local dental society, on the creation and support of a dental hygiene training program. It also took over the Maternity Center recently operated by Dignity Health and has integrated it into primary care. The Health Center provides mental health services, trains doctors, assists Shasta County Public Health in the operating of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, and much more. The Health Center’s footprint has expanded as well. Shasta Community Health Center has locations in Anderson, City of Shasta Lake and Redding.
So what will be written in the next chapter of this story? There are plans in the works for a larger physical presence on the eastside of Redding with the future construction of a new and expanded Enterprise Health Center as well as the planned 30,000 square foot Women’s, Babies and Children Center near the headquarters in downtown Redding.
Is it any wonder the Health Center recently went through a very thorough review by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the Federal Government and they concluded that Shasta Community Health Center met all 19 major federal requirements and the hundreds of conditions under those major requirements? In short, they scored a 100%. The review team’s parting comments to the Patient-Community Board (the Board must be made up of 51% people receiving services) and leadership team was that Shasta Community Health Center “is an elite organization”, clearly in the top 1% of Community Health Centers in all of the United States.
I picked and chose just a few of the achievements of the Shasta Community Health Center since it all began a few short decades ago. Perhaps Germano, when summing up the success, said it best, “If you do the work, truly believe in the mission and show compassion, good things happen”. He notes, that he has been very fortunate to have had such an incredible group of leaders and clinical and support staff over the years who have also believed in the mission and try to live it out every day.
Something tells me much good is still in store for one of the greatest stories rarely told in Redding’s business community.
President & CEO