New health care teaching clinic opening in Oak Park

From left: Dr. Kim Benton and Dr. William Sands outside of the unfinished Pacific Health Care Collaborative building on 3333 3rd Ave. in Oak Park. The building used to house the Sacramento Food Bank, but now is being used as a health clinic. (Photo by Keyshawn Davis)

By Keyshawn Davis

About six years ago, Dr. William Sands, the director of special projects for University of the Pacific’s Pacific Health Care Collaborative, was tasked with finding a place to locate this new health education program, where students could learn and practice health together in collaboration with UOP

Sands said he was told by the university’s dean of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, Dr. Nader Nadershahi, his vision of what that would look like, and Sands started meeting with local, state and federal health advisers to find out where there was a need for it and where the right location would be. 

Sands said that with UOP already having a footprint in Sacramento with its School of Health Sciences and McGeorge School of Law, the capital city was a natural choice for the health clinic to be established. Sands said he realized there was a huge need locally, and when two buildings in Oak Park went up for sale, he said those options made sense. The buildings were purchased and one of the two buildings will host the first-of-its-kind medical and dental school, Pacific Health Care Collaborative.

“You cannot imagine how proud we are to bring this to Oak Park and Sacramento and the vicinity,” Sands said. “We feel the need is great. We can provide something that really is not available. We’re really pleased to be a part of the community, both local Oak Park as well as the whole city.”

The Pacific Health Care Collaborative, located at 3333 3rd Ave., will be a 30,000-square-foot clinic that brings together medical, dental and various health departments under one roof to help bridge interprofessional education among students. The clinic is both a teaching and learning environment for students, and is set up so that professionals can easily collaborate for the benefit of patients.

The clinic is expected to open with its first cohort in July.

PHCC is a joint effort that is led by the UOP Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and includes Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and the School of Health Sciences. Although the dental program leads it, the clinic will have rotations from students outside of the dental school. The students will serve each other, but they’ll also be serving clients, according to the program’s director Dr. Kim Benton.

“The goal of the clinic is to integrate medical and dental services,” Benton said. “So, for instance, we have a school nutrition students come over, they’ll do an assessment for our students because we can be healthier and help our patients when we know more about ourselves. But also, most importantly, they can do nutritional screenings for the patients.”

The clinic will include 30 dental operatories, 10 medical exam rooms, of which two of those offer small treatments, like collecting samples for  biopsy. It will also include four sensory-driven rooms for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“They are a population that gets put to the side, but they are in great need of treatment. They often have to wait a year because there’s only a few people that might see them,” Sands said. “So we’re having four rooms that are totally set aside for that. We will also have an ambulatory surgical center. We’ll have two operating rooms where we can do fairly in-depth surgical procedures.”

The clinic will be available for anyone who comes in, according to Sands. Benton said in addition to Medical, Sacramento has geographic managed care, which means people within certain Zip codes can sign up for that plan. 

“We’re going to be a part of the beneficiaries for that. So as long as people get signed up for those plans. That opens the door tremendously,” Benton said. “We would want to guide them towards a connector to see if they qualify for one of those plans and most people do.” 

Benton said the dental school in San Francisco’s fees are about 30% less than private practice.

Opportunities for international students

Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is located on UOP’s campus in San Francisco, and it’s expanding to Sacramento as part of the university’s International Dental Studies Program. The program has been going since 1989 and dentists from other countries can gain their license to practice dentistry in the United States.

Students attend a two-year program to get certified to practice, according to Benton. There were over 200 applicants to be in this year’s program, of which 57 international dentists were chosen, 30 of which will make up the first cohort of students.. 

The director of the international studies program, Dr. Patrick Pansoy, is an alumnus of the international program and he said he was excited to hear of the expansion.

“I went to dental school in the Philippines,” Pansoy said. “I think it’s just such a great opportunity for us to bring in more talent from overseas, more insight, and for people who really do have an understanding of what it’s like to provide care for people who really do need it.”

Pansoy said having a dental school that brings in several different medical programs under one roof and allows international students to take the helm and be the main providers is “breaking barriers for the patient because it’s just a one-stop shop for everything,” Pansoy said. 

He said from the student’s perspective, it allows them to see that they’re not just a dentist and they’re part of a bigger picture where sometimes dentists are “the front line of seeing everything.”

“They say that the oral health cavity is the gateway to the rest of the body’s health,” Pansoy said. “By letting the students recognize that they have such a pivotal role in being sort of the quarterback or starting position for a patient’s care, I think that’s phenomenal for them to see that as a student and know how much potential they have in the community afterwards.”

Health care for the locals

Benton said that UOP has many campuses in different cities — San Francisco, Stockton and Sacramento. Within the School of Health Sciences, there is a Physicians Assistant Program, which is beginning to expand its cohort size from 45 to 90 in 2026. She said they had to increase their space for the students, so the building across the street is where the new PA program is housed.

Benton said that PHCC has five goals and to try to penetrate areas where they can help make healthier communities. She said she’s most excited about the blending of medical and dental.

“We want to improve provider experience,” Benton said. “We want to improve patient experience. We want to improve the overall health outcomes and we also want to improve access to care and health. And improve what we call health equity. And the good thing about where we’re located, we know we’re in Oak Park, which is an underserved area, which has always been part of our mission.”

She said that having medical facilities within the building and having students who can see the patients on the same day, is going to benefit patients by providing a more convenient and streamlined arrangement to their health care.

“We can also literally communicate. We can really walk across the hall and talk to the primary care and share our concerns,” Benton said. “[Patients] can also let us know what their concerns are and we’re literally in the same building. At the end of the day, that allows us to really serve our patients better. And if we’re serving them better, that’s going to increase their health outcomes and have a healthier population.”

This story is part of the Solving Sacramento journalism collaborative. Solving Sacramento is supported by funding from the James Irvine Foundation and James B. McClatchy Foundation. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.

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