Sierra Kings Health Care District celebrates 60 years of service in southeast Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local health care district is celebrating 60 years of serving the southeast Fresno community.

The Sierra Kings Health Care District, originally the Sierra Kings Hospital District, has gone through many changes, including the hospital's transition into Adventist Health Reedley. Even throughout physical changes, the mission has remained the same -- make healthcare more accessible to those in rural communities.

The District started in 1962, opening its hospital three years later. By 1977, the southeast Fresno community had an emergency room open on nights and weekends when doctor's offices were closed.

The healthcare services gave residents a closer option for care.

"The sheer number of people that I know growing up in the area that had to leave to get a basic kind of health services or surgeries," recalled Kathy Omachi. "And the folks that didn't come home, because they just didn't make it."

Kathy Omachi is a lifelong Reedley resident who also serves as the District's board chair. She's proud of the expanded services over the past 60 years.

"We have an excellent birthing center with one of the highest rates of births in the area of live healthy births," Omachi said.

However, she also acknowledges the challenges, including almost closing.

"Within the last 10 years, there were real questions of whether or not we would have made it to this point," she said.

Due to financial hardships, in 2012, the District entered a lease agreement with Adventist Health to save the hospital.

Since selling to Adventist, the District has shifted its focus from treatment to prevention, by providing grants to local health projects focused on diabetes, mental health and obesity.

"Those are serious needs that need to be addressed on a local basis, because that's where people actually get the services," Omachi said. "This is where people live, and where they will continue to live."

For those who have been part of the District's history, this type of commitment is what the area deserves.

"I couldn't think of a better place for us to be in 60 years," said Omachi.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.