Cheyenne Spetzler, interim CEO of Open Door Community Health Centers, and widow of the late Hermann Spetzler expressed her appreciation to those gathered who “believed in the dream” of the new Fortuna Open Door Community Health Center. (Mary Bullwinkel — For the Times-Standard)

Many of those who attended the grand opening of the Fortuna Open Door Community Health Center on Friday afternoon stood on the same site just over two years ago when ground was broken for the $12 million project.

“This health center is the successful culmination of over five years of planning, design, fundraising, and construction,” said Cheyenne Spetzler, interim CEO of Open Door Community Health Centers. “We hope that it will be the center of a vibrant, thriving, and healing primary care system in the Eel River Valley for decades to come.”

Spetzler is the widow of the late Herrmann Spetzler, who she said was one of a few that had the vision to bring Open Door to Fortuna and the Eel River Valley.

“I have never been involved in a project with so many people to thank,” Spetzler said, referring to the foundations, businesses and individuals who donated to build this project to fruition.

And she added, “I am proud to have a local construction firm (Pacific Builders) complete the building.”

McLean Foundation President Dennis Scott echoed that statement.

“I can’t thank everyone who has helped on this project,” he said. “We have received donations of as little as $5 to several thousand dollars. We even received a donation of a 100-year-old clubhouse, that we sold, and it is now being converted to a residence. The proceeds went to Open Door. Thank you to Loleta Los Amigos Club.”

The 32,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art outpatient medical and dental facility opened its doors in September, and according to a news release from Open Door Community Health Centers, with the recruitment of additional medical staff, the Fortuna clinic is now ready to accept new patients.

At the grand opening celebration, St. Joseph Health Humboldt chief executive Dr. Roberta Luskin-Hawk spoke highly of the collaboration between her organization and Open Door Community Health Center.

“We are working in lockstep with them to keep people healthy and provide the care they need, when it is needed. We are transforming health care in the Eel River Valley,” she said, “and we are glad to be able to support it.”

Open Door Community Health Centers Board President Kathy Moxon said to those gathered at the grand opening, ”I would like to thank the community. We could not do this without you welcoming us in. This will serve as a platform to stabilize health care in the Eel River Valley.”

The new Fortuna clinic will also offer dental services, starting in early Jan., 2019. According to a news release, the dental section of the new facility occupies one-quarter of the space on the first floor. All dental providers and support staff have been recruited and services are scheduled to begin Jan. 7, 2019.

A few other projects connected to the new Fortuna health center are planned for completion in the near future, including a children’s playground and a garden.

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