UCSF Fresno to Open Comprehensive Sickle Cell Disease Care Clinic for Adults

One in 365 people of African ancestry in California will carry a gene trait for sickle cell disease, a group of disorders that affect red blood cells that deliver oxygen throughout the body. About one in 13 African Americans in California have sickle cell disease, which among other conditions includes sickle cell anemia — a low red blood cell count that features repeated infections and episodes of pain.

UCSF Fresno is opening a comprehensive adult sickle cell disease care clinic with funding from a $75,000 state grant.

The UCSF Fresno clinic will be located at the Community Cancer Institute in Clovis and will provide comprehensive care, including screening for complications of the blood disease, and coordination of care with other specialties, including genetics, counseling, pain management, orthopaedics, surgery and obstetrics/gynecology.

“The overall goal is to reduce utilization of emergency departments as a point of care by patients and minimize hospitalizations for pain management, as well as improving quality of care and eventually decreasing cost of care,” said Mohammed Sani Bukari, MD, a UCSF assistant clinical professor and a UCSF Fresno oncologist who is board certified in Hematology, Internal Medicine, Oncology and Pediatrics. Dr. Bukari wrote the grant proposal for the clinic.

The Cayenne Wellness Center, a community-based organization, will provide access to community resources, such as help with transportation to clinic visits; and support groups. The three-year grant will be administered by the Center for Inherited Blood Diseases. Cayenne Wellness has been helping people with sickle cell disease in California since 2000.

The lifespan of Californians with sickle cell disease is lower than for populations with sickle cell disease living in other states, said Carolyn Rowley, PhD, founder and executive director of Cayenne Wellness Center. Many times, people with sickle cell disease do not receive timely and the latest, most effective care, she said. “Having a clinic with a person like Dr. Bukari who is a specialist and who is aware of how to manage, how to treat, what to look for is very important.”

This will be the only operating sickle cell disease clinic for adults in the greater Fresno area. Madera County has a sickle cell disease clinic for children at Valley Children’s Hospital in. UCSF Fresno will cooperate with Valley Children’s to help teens transitioning from the pediatric clinic to the adult clinic, Dr. Bukari said.

The Sickle Cell Clinic at Community Cancer Institute will be open twice a month, beginning in July. For information: 559-387-1900.