Fire stations as health clinics?

Local, low-income care

In an effort to prevent avoidable emergency-room visits and bring primary care to those who cannot afford it, Alameda County is drafting a plan that will turn local fire stations into small health clinics, according to Inside Bay Area, the online hub for Bay Area News Group publications.

In mid-April, the county’s board of supervisors allocated $750,000 for the project, which would include stocking fire stations with a paramedic and a medical practitioner who could help low-income residents with basic health issues such as treatment of sinus infections and obtaining vaccinations. More than 200,000 individuals in the county cannot afford health care.

If everything goes as planned, the pilot program could start up as early as July 2012 in five stations—in Hayward, San Leandro, east and west Oakland, and Union City. Officials estimate it will cost about $2.5 million to kick off and an additional $2 million in annual operational costs.