Dental Health

Salud Para La Gente opens ladies”s well being middle – Santa Cruz Sentinel

If you get pregnant in Watsonville, there”s a good chance you”ll visit Salud Para La Gente — nearly a 50-50 chance, in fact.

Salud”s doctors and nurse practitioners provided prenatal care in just under 1,000 of the 2,200 births here last year.

To better serve its female patients, Salud has converted former administrative offices at the back of its East Beach Street clinic into a women”s health center.

The center, gleaming new and painted in earth tones, includes five new exam rooms, five offices for one-on-one patient education, a viewing room with four flat-panel televisions for watching health education programs and a waiting room off the Trafton Street entrance.

And Salud, which is well on its way to recovery after running into financial difficulties last year, isn”t done expanding. Dr. José Chibrás, Salud”s chief executive officer and chief medical officer, is planning on opening a small pediatric clinic in a building it owns next door.

“We”re increasing access,” Chibrás said. “We”re optimizing patient care.”

Chibrás said the additional examining rooms in the women”s center give the clinic the capacity to see 3,500 more patients, some 10,000 more visits, each year.

The nearly 30-year-old nonprofit clinic sees more than 100,000 visits a year now, Chibrás said.

Nurse practitioner Marta Staple said patients are more comfortable in the new female-friendly surroundings, and they”re less at risk of coming into contact with sick patients.

Pregnant women not only get prenatal care, but also learn about breast-feeding, nutrition, CPR, even the use of car seats. And if they don”t have a car seat, Salud can help them get one.

Staple said 95 percent of Salud”s patients take the information about the benefits of breast-feeding to heart, and not only try but succeed. To compare, she said, less than 50 percent of Latino mothers nationwide breast-feed their babies.

“It”s the most thorough prenatal care I”ve ever seen,” said Staple, who left a private practice in Los Gatos to join Salud last May. “It”s solid.”

The center also offers preventative screenings, such as mammograms and pap smears, and steeply discounted specialized services such as ultrasound through partnerships with other agencies.

And while it”s separated from the family practice, pediatric, eye and dental clinics in the rest of the pink building at 204 E. Beach St., having all the services under one roof — unique among county safety net clinics — is an advantage as well. Staple said if her patients have an eye or dental problem, she can help them set up an appointment on the other side of the building. And it facilitates the transition from prenatal to pediatric care.

Contact Donna Jones at 763-4505 or

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