Spotlight on West Berkeley Family Practice

By Elaine Herscher, Senior Communications Editor

History:

The building housing West Berkeley Family Practice has a nearly 100-year history of serving the local community.

The site is a City of Berkeley landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The older part of the building, with an address at 2031 Sixth St., was constructed in 1927 for the Berkeley Day Nursery, started by a group of prominent Berkeley women to provide daycare for the children of low-income working mothers. Since becoming a part of LMC about 45 years ago, West Berkeley has ensured access to quality healthcare services for our community, including our underserved and underinsured populations.

Leadership:

Associate Medical Director Danielle Gordon, PA. Danielle had had a career in public health before training to be a physician assistant. At LifeLong for five years, she has a long-time interest in access to care and HIV medicine.

Center Director Judy Gillespie was a skilled nursing administrator before coming to LifeLong five years ago. She is a teacher of qigong who learned about LifeLong when she taught the practice to some of LMC’s staff. “The pay is much less than skilled nursing administrator pay,” she says, “but this satisfies the heart and soul.”

Special characteristics:

At West Berkeley Family Practice, the word “family” is key. “One of the things that’s interesting about this clinic is that it’s a completely integrated family practice clinic,” Danielle says. By that she means that the floors aren’t segregated by age.

“A lot of times we can be the primary care provider to the whole family. We get to know the dynamics of the family, the children, the parents, even the grandparents. It gives you a really interesting insight,” she says.

“Speaking to the advantages of full family practice, I think it’s a good thing for the general public to know as they’re looking at their options about whether to come to LifeLong,” Judy says.

The patient population at West Berkeley is enormously diverse, sometimes creating interesting challenges, like needing an interpreter who speaks Mongolian or communicating with a family from Tunisia who speak a particular dialect.

Innovation:

During COVID vaccination clinics, West Berkeley decided to leverage patients’ 15-minute waiting period to address some health care maintenance gaps. One patient, who had declined a FIT kit for colon cancer previously, relented. That led to the patient being diagnosed with anal cancer and getting earlier intervention than they would have otherwise.

Pictured left to right: Associate Medical Director Danielle Gordon, PA, and Center Director Judy Gillespie.

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