Health, Education, and Welfare Regional Office in San Francisco, the non-profit corporation applied for and received two federal grants and a federal loan which allowed the corporation to purchase land and to have the West Oakland Health Center constructed, furnished and equipped.
The West Oakland Health Council was organized in 1967 to improve the accessibility, quality and comprehensiveness of health care services in West Oakland. Its formation reflected a grassroots response to the lack of medical providers in West Oakland, the high cost of medical services, and the high levels of illness and premature death in the area. Established as a nonprofit corporation, the Council began operations in 1969 with land donated by the city of Oakland, support from the Economic Development Administration for the construction of it first facility, the West Oakland Health Center, and a five-year grant from the U.S. Public Health Service for operating expenses.
Dr. Stone, who had an office a few blocks from West Oakland and was a volunteer at Highland General Hospital, had a few West Oakland residents in his private practice and saw many West Oakland residents in his volunteer practice at Highland Hospital. A visit to the hospital was a half of a full day trip, and with children, the trip was even more challenging.
In January 1968, Dr. Stone and Darnley Goodridge, M.D. who had an office in West Oakland organized a group of 25 health care practitioners who agreed to work with the Council and to support its efforts to open a health center in West Oakland. Dr. Stone was the Council’s Medical Director until the summer of 1968 when the Council hired Dr. Darnley Goodridge as its Health Care Coordinator.
On October 20, 1968, the Council began doing business as the West Oakland Health Center, providing medical, dental, mental health, optometry, pharmacy, laboratory, x-ray, health education, social services, physical therapy, and transportation services in West Oakland to West Oakland residents and to any other person who went to the Health Center for services. The fees for services were based on a patient’s ability to pay for the service received.
The Council was, and still is, governed by a Board of Directors. The majority of the Board of Directors are consumers (patients) of the Council.
The founders of the Council were motivated by a desire to have health care services that were available, accessible, affordable and culturally sensitive to the residents of West Oakland, their families and their neighbors.