The former Sears Auto Center building in Hanford is seen in this Google Earth image

published on March 17, 2020 - 12:10 PM
Written by John Lindt

The Sears Auto Center at the Hanford Mall closed in 2018. Now you will be able to get a personal “tune-up” at the same location with the announced purchase of the 8,800 square-foot building by United Health Centers.

“We just closed escrow” on the property, said Justin Preas, deputy CEO for the clinic system. This will be the newest site for the rapidly expanding clinic operator that already has two locations in Lemoore and is soon expanding in Corcoran with the recent purchase of the old courthouse in town.

United Health began operations in 1971 in a trailer in Orange Cove and will soon grow to be 30 locations in the Central Valley.

“Today we serve around 100,000 patients in a three-county area and five years ago it stood around 30,000,” Preas said.

The health care clinic has two locations in Sanger, two in Selma and is constructing a new $1 million clinic in Dinuba that should open in June. One of the first locations they opened serving the needs of rural Central Valley residents was in Earlimart.

“What has made the difference today is the Affordable Care Act,” Preas said, “with more people having access to health insurance to pay for primary and specialty care service.”

United Health is among a handful of health care nonprofits to open in the San Joaquin Valley in what has become a competitive landscape. Operators include FamilyHealthcare Network, which has a location now in Hanford and more than 30 in the Valley. There is also Omni Health of Bakersfield with 34 sites including in Visalia, Exeter and Lindsay.

Then there is Kaweah Delta Healthcare of Visalia, which has opened a number of rural clinics and recently got approval to open its first federally qualified health center in Visalia.They are opening a new clinic in Tulare where Adventist Health has both a hospital and clinics.

Tulare has its own network of primary care clinics operating as Altura Healthcare. Not to be left behind, Porterville’s SierraView Hospital just announced it would open two new rural clinics in Strathmore and Terra Bella.

Preas said thanks to a cooperative agreement with University of California, San Francisco, United Health will soon have 17 resident doctors to help carry the load. Likewise at Kaweah Delta, where the residency doctors now number 129 with 47 incoming intern doctorss added each year.The hospital graduate medical education program is now partnered with University of Southern California.

Kern Schools Credit Union building Tulare branch

Kern Federal Credit Union is building its first branch outside of the Kern County boundary in the City of Tulare, where it has filed plans for a vacant building pad along Prosperity Avenue next to the Target shopping center. The branch will be located at Prosperity at Mooney. The credit union will rebrand their operation as Valley Strong Credit Union – expected to open as well in Visalia.

Dutch Bros Coffee coming to Lemoore

The US’s largest privately held coffee drive-thru is coming to Lemoore with a store to be built from the ground up. The location is the old Pioneer shopping center. Founded by Oregon dairymen in 1982, Dutch Bros Coffee now has more than 370 locations in seven western states and more than 12,000 employees. Its coffee kiosks serve specialty coffee drinks, smoothies, freezes, teas, a private-label Dutch Bros Blue Rebel energy drink and nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee.


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