Alameda County — Axis Community Health last week celebrated 50 years of serving the community.
The anniversary party took place at Axis’s Pleasanton-based clinic on May 4 and featured various speakers, including Axis CEO Sue Compton, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown and Livermore Councilmember Trish Munro.
During the event, Compton detailed the organization’s successes over 50 years and shared some news for the future.
“We couldn’t have done it without the community,” said Compton. “And now as we look toward our next 50 years ahead, we have lots to look forward to. We are buying a building in downtown Livermore, which will allow us to expand even more over there.”
Compton said the site is expected to open in late 2023. She also introduced incoming CEO Liz Perez-Howe, who will take over when Compton retires in June.
Since 1972, Axis has served eastern Alameda County and southern Contra Costa County with a mission to “provide quality, affordable, accessible and compassionate health care services that promote the well-being of all members of the community.” According to a press release from the organization, Axis began as a grassroots effort to provide pediatric care for low-income children who had no other access to medical care. Services were first provided in a small house on Spring Street in downtown Pleasanton. In the late 1970s, the clinic relocated to another downtown Pleasanton facility, which allowed for the addition of adult medical care, women’s health services and a Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. The clinic continued to grow. In response to the increasing needs of the community, a satellite clinic opened in the 1980s in Livermore. During that time, the organization added a senior support program and mental health counseling services. Growth continued steadily over the years, but a lack of resources prevented the organization from being able to fully meet the needs of the community.
The trajectory of the organization changed in 2009, when Axis was awarded Federally Qualified Health Center status by the U.S. Bureau of Primary Health Care. With the federal funds that this designation provided, coupled with the nationwide implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the number of patients served by Axis increased by 40%. This, in turn, brought about an urgent need for additional clinical space. In 2011, Axis purchased a 24,000-square-foot building in the Hacienda Business Park, with the objective of developing the site into a clinical facility that could support the growing needs of the community. Following a multi-year fundraising campaign, Axis began construction on the new clinic in 2015, and the doors opened in 2016. This new site allowed Axis to double its capacity to serve the community.
In early 2019, after three years of planning and fundraising, Axis opened a dental clinic on Regional Street in Dublin. Until this site opened, Tri-Valley residents who were in need of affordable or Medi-Cal dental services did not have a local option for care. Dental care is now available to low-income and uninsured Tri-Valley residents of all ages.
2019 brought about the completion of a rehabilitation project at Axis’s original clinic site on Railroad Avenue, which included a fully renovated integrated behavioral health building, and the complete renovation of a second building that houses the call center, medical records, referrals and patient billing. In early 2020, Axis added orthopedics, acupuncture and chiropractic care to its array of services.
During the 50th anniversary celebration, Bauer-Kahan recognized Compton and her leadership of the program that serves “our most vulnerable community members.”
“I remember the first time I came here, and Sue gave me a tour of the facility, and I walked in, and it’s just gorgeous,” she said of the Pleasanton clinic. “(Sue) said to me, ‘I knew that it had to make our patients feel like they deserved best-in-class health care.’ Everything about this space just resonated exactly the mission of the organization.”
Representing the City of Pleasanton, Brown presented Compton and Perez-Howe with a commendation plaque for Axis Community Health’s 50 years of service.
“Axis Community Health is similar to ‘access to community health,’ and maybe that was a play on words, but it provides that health that is so important to our community and our neighborhoods,” Brown said.
Munro congratulated the organization on behalf of Livermore.
“Axis Community center for the past 50 years has provided (health care) for this area, and I hope that continues to expand,” Munro said. “Without that, we cannot flourish. You have nurtured the community. We are grateful that you are here. We are grateful to be in partnership with you, and we look forward to the next 100 to 150 years as we go forward.”
For more information, visit axishealth.org.