Valley wellness center looks to expand amid doctor shortage

February 19, 2013 12:30:46 AM PST
Beginning next year, the state of California will expand health care to millions of currently uninsured people. The change comes as the state already deals with a shortage of doctors, and a small Valley medical center tries to plan for the future.

Dr. Unaiza Hayat isn't originally from the Central Valley, but she did her residency right here in Fresno and then started her practice here. "To look at the fact that people were getting so sick, I wanted to do something before they got their diabetes, before for they got their emphysema. With the patient population, it seemed like they were just throwing medicine on them," said Dr. Hayat.

Hayat wanted a more holistic approach. That's how she and her brother came to create Avecinia Wellness Center in Fresno in 2010. There, Dr. Hayat provides primary care services along with herbal remedies and acupuncture. The new Clovis location just opened last month and also includes a yoga studio.

The two would like to expand even further, but those expansion plans could be impacted by California's doctor shortage. "If there aren't enough doctors, we can't operate. We need the doctors there to be able to provide care," said Aamer Hayat, Avecinia's Chief Operating Officer.

While nation braces for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Hayat's are hopeful the healthcare changes will also impact those looking at medicine as a career. "Hopefully people will start realizing there is an important role for primary care in all of this. If the pay is reduced on the specialist side, you reduce that incentive, then hopefully people will be more likely to go into primary care. We're keeping our fingers crossed," said Aamer Hayat.