LISA LUNA STAFF WRITER
From Pleasonton Express November 11, 2015

atascosaSince 1953, the Atascosa Health Center building on W. Oaklawn has held a special place in the hearts of many. To make room for the new facility, the original structure (which first opened as the Pleasanton Hospital in 1953), was recently demolished.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, the Atascosa Health Center administration and staff celebrated with a breakfast and groundbreaking ceremony.

Through an Affordable Care Act/Health Resources and Services Administration grant, AHC will construct a new, 19,390 square foot, state-of-the-art medical, dental and behavioral health facility. There will also be a separate 3,479 square foot facility for Women, Infants and Children services.

“This is a great, wonderful thing for our community,” said AHC CEO Monty Small, as he welcomed guests. “As you can see, it is changing. All the way through the city ofPleasanton... big things are happening.”

Small said he was honored to be in attendance and that it would not be possible without the AHC Board of Directors. It was 2004 when the board said a new center was needed. Small was glad to see it is finally becoming a reality.

Small introduced some of the board members present, which were: Melanie Wells (board chair), Lillian Cashmer Wilbur Palmer and Tammy Favor. From Live Oak County was Maria Cruz, while Lillian Lyssy and Dwayne Villanueva attended from Karnes County.

Some of the city and county leaders on hand were: Atascosa County Judge Diana Bautista, Pleasanton Mayor Clinton J. Powell, Pleasanton City Councilman Roger G. Garza, Pleasanton City Councilman J.R. Gallegos, Pleasanton City Councilperson Kathy Coronado, Pleasanton City Manager Bruce Pearson, Poteet City Administrator Scott Moore, Poteet City Councilperson Denise Sanchez and Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez.

Small also thanked Daniel Diaz of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, project manager Walt Rakowitz, Brandon Klumb who put together the modular building and general contractor Davila Construction.

Small shared that he has spoken to some former patients. He talked to one woman who was born at the facility in 1963, when it was the Pleasanton Hospital. Years later, her twins were born in the same building.

“That building has a lot of history,” said Small. “This could not be done without the Affordable Care Act.”
The new health care facility is scheduled to open in October 2015. This will double the amount of medical exam rooms from 10 to 20. It will also house an eight-suite dental complex.
AHC would not be able to serve its many patients without its providers, acknowledged Small.
“They are the ones everyday taking care of the patients,” said Small.

AHC now operates four centers: AHC in Pleasanton, Wilson Community Health Center in Floresville, Karnes Community Health Center in Karnes City and Live Oak Community Health Center in Three Rivers.

Its goal is to provide accessible, comprehensible health promotion and quality primary care services to all Atascosa County residents, as well as those in the surrounding area.
“Our primary mission is the uninsured and 47 percent of our patients are uninsured. We are here for everybody,” said Small.

AHC also works closely with South Texas Regional Medical Center, added Small. The center also recently became a Primary Care Medical Home by the Joint Commission.
He then introduced Chief of Staff Cynthia Gaona, representing Congressman Henry Cuellar.

“On behalf of Congressman Cuellar, he would like to thank Monty Small, Judge Bautista, Mayor Powell, the community and the AHC staff for all your work,” said Gaona.
The $5 million grant will bring in 58 new full-time jobs toAtascosa County and is due to have an economic impact of $6.6 million on the community, Gaona noted.
Other speakers were Atascosa County Judge Diana Bautista and Pleasanton Mayor Clinton J. Powell, who were introduced by Lillian Cashmer (AHC board) and Dr. Nandini Mandlik (AHC Medical Director).

Bautista spoke of how the wait time for patients at AHC is below the national average. The center also sees many veterans, as it is much easier for local veterans than having to travel to a V.A. facility, said Bautista. The center also aids those seeking both medical and mental health assistance and no one is turned away because of the inability to pay.
“This facility has been a fixture in our community for a long time. I think we are privileged for a community our size to have not only the quality, but the availability of healthcare that we do. I would like to thank Cuellar’s office for what they did in making this happen and a big thank you to Monty and the staff at the clinic here. They do it everyday. You all are a huge asset to our community and the surrounding communities.