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Coming to South Fresno: City Funded Healthcare Centers
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 2 years ago on
April 14, 2022

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The sky in a southeast Fresno neighborhood surrounded by 40 food processing plants was uncommonly blue. Some say it was a rare day for clean air.

Several Amazon trucks zoom by, presumably to the fulfillment center three miles away.

Most of the time, residents near Jensen and Cedar avenues, adjacent to the community of Calwa, experience the brunt of pollution and its associated health effects.

In a matter of months, construction will start on a new United Health Centers clinic, across the street from Calwa Elementary School. It is one of two clinics funded in part by $10 million in federal CARES funds distributed through the city of Fresno.

Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez said a health center will help plant employees who live in zip codes hit especially hard during the pandemic.

“A lot of folks, unfortunately, got sick. And one of the reasons that that happened and the problem became quite as big as it did in the zip codes is because of the lack of access to quality healthcare,” Chavez said.

Chavez estimates 44,000 people live in southeast Fresno zip codes that are income-eligible for free healthcare services but go unserved.

Locations Close to Those Impacted Most by Pollution

The new locations were picked to help the greatest number of residents needing healthcare.

“We’re very intentional in putting these healthcare services where they’ve been needed for decades and being thoughtful that it’s around the most vulnerable workers that are essential,” said councilman Miguel Arias, who represents southwest Fresno.

Community activist Debbie Darden, with the Golden Westside Planning Committee, said healthcare services are needed in southeast and west Fresno.

“We want to thank our city council people and United Health for taking the time to once again right some of the wrongs and bring in the resources that the community has so often asked for,” Darden said.

Justin Preas, deputy chief executive officer with United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley, says groundbreaking for the southeast Fresno facility will start in about five months, with an opening by the end of 2023.

UHC is closing escrow on a location in west Fresno, at California and Walnut avenues, near Edison High School. Building both will cost up to $19 million.

The $10 million, approved by the city council in 2020, is important, Preas said.

“It would make it very difficult to do it because construction is obviously extremely expensive and then healthcare construction is even more expensive,” Preas said.

UHC executive Justin Preas (right) shows Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez the land where a new health clinic will be built in southeast Fresno. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Healthcare and Jobs

The buildings will be 12,000 square feet each and provide several types of healthcare services. Preas estimates the locations will generate 100 new jobs on top of any economic benefits from construction.

“It’s really a healthcare home for the people that live in the communities that we serve,” Preas said.

Another clinic — not funded by the city — at Kings Canyon and Minnewawa avenues will open on April 25. Currently, UHC operates 25 centers in the Central Valley, with five in the city of Fresno.

Smoke is visible in the neighborhood where a new health clinic will be built in southeast Fresno. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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