MayView clinics to merge with Ravenswood, ending 47 years of operation | News | Almanac Online |

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MayView clinics to merge with Ravenswood, ending 47 years of operation

Transition unlikely to affect patients, and could ease long-standing financial challenges

The MayView network of north Santa Clara County clinics serving low-income families will be under new management next year, owned and operated by the San Mateo County-based nonprofit Ravenswood Family Health Center.

MayView Community Health Center, which has provided care for needy patients in Santa Clara County since the 1970s, has reached a deal in which all of its assets, employees and operations will be transferred to Ravenswood by next April. The name "MayView" might continue to be used for clinics located in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, but the deal largely ends the nonprofit's long tenure as north Santa Clara County's health care safety net.

Ravenswood CEO Luisa Buada said the merger, which will be subject to a vote by the boards of directors of both organizations this week, is the best path forward for MayView's patients. Nonprofit clinics are difficult to operate on a balanced budget while serving an ever-increasing number of uninsured and underinsured patients, she said, particularly with limited reimbursement rates and high physician salaries in the Bay Area.

Consolidating the clinics into one larger organization is one way to get around those challenges, Buada said.

"The stresses MayView has had in the past are going to be a thing of the past," she said. "So the focus will be on patient care delivery and expanding services."

MayView serves more than 9,000 patients each year, the majority of whom are Mountain View and Sunnyvale residents. There are no county-operated health clinics in northern Santa Clara County, leaving organizations like MayView and Planned Parenthood to fill the gap. After the transition, Ravenswood is expected to serve a combined 27,000 patients with a little over 100,000 patient visits each year, according to MayView CEO Ken Graham.

MayView has struggled in past years to stay solvent in a difficult health care market, and there are a lot of forces that make consolidation a tempting option. Perhaps the most important factor is that Ravenswood is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), granting it a line of federal funding to provide health services in underserved areas.

Graham said he believes that Ravenswood's taking over the MayView clinics will "unify" the safety net across county boundaries -- Ravenswood's flagship clinic is located in East Palo Alto in San Mateo County -- and will mean better services for patients and stronger organizational support for staff.

Buada said the merger makes sense, given that both organizations have fought to provide health care to underrepresented and marginalized residents, with special considerations for cultural competency in diverse communities. Unlike what might happen under a corporate merger, which often brings layoffs and major restructuring, Buada said, the transition should be smooth and patients shouldn't see much of a difference.

Under the current plans, the staffing at all three of MayView's clinics will remain the same, and patients who can't afford the full cost of care will still be eligible to pay a reduced fee on a sliding scale based on income. Even the IT and electronic health records should be relatively easy to combine, as MayView and Ravenswood use the same providers.

Subsidized health care for needy residents has gone through major shifts in Mountain View in recent years. In 2016, the Mountain View RotaCare clinic on Grant Road shut down, forcing hundreds of patients who relied on its free services to transfer to MayView. Now, all patients of MayView will be transferred to Ravenswood.

To assist in the transition, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is scheduled Tuesday to vote on providing MayView $625,000 in bridge funding for financial support through the end of March. The money will allow MayView to continue to provide health care services to patients during the "orderly transition of patients and patient care from MayView to Ravenswood," according to a county staff report.

MayView serves 200 uninsured patients per month -- the second-highest of all health centers in the county -- in addition to Medi-Cal patients who would otherwise have to travel to Milpitas or Sunnyvale for care.

In a statement, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian called the funding a critical stopgap measure to ensure that MayView's services continue in the lead-up to the merger. Assuming the plan goes forward, he said, the organization will be assuming a vital role in health care that MayView has filled for decades.

"MayView has been an invaluable partner in the North County for almost half a century," Simitian said in the statement. "And we are so excited that Ravenswood will continue to carry the torch that MayView lit 47 years ago."

The funding agreement also stipulates that, if the acquisition doesn't happen for some unforeseen reason, the county will have "first right of refusal" to acquire the three MayView sites.

Precise details on a MayView-Ravenswood merger, including how to integrate a portion of MayView's board of directors into Ravenswood's organizational structure, have yet to be determined. Graham said it's unclear what role he might have at Ravenswood once the merger is complete.

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