While many people were busy making last-minute cuts and carvings to pumpkins yesterday, the Santa Barbara County Health Clinic in Carpinteria held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of its expansion.

The ceremony began at 1 p.m. and was held at the newly expanded clinic located inside the Veterans’ Memorial Hall building. The ceremony marked the official opening of the 835-square-foot, $591,000 addition. Funds for the addition were collected through the county public health department.

“It was a really nice event with more than a 50-person turnout,” clinic worker Michele Mickiewicz said.

The expansion includes a new laboratory, a nurse’s station, an office, three exam rooms and an improved storage center for medical records. The addition is expected to double the number of patients served by the clinic.

“Before, it was simply too small – now we can care for 40 percent more patients,” clinic Director Roger Heroux said.

The expansion will also allow the clinic to increase its hours.

“We used to only be open 24 hours a week,” Heroux said. “Now, with the addition, we can be open for 40 hours per week.”

The clinic historically has provided care to people without insurance. Special services such as nutritional education, counseling and the Women, Infants and Children program are also offered, Heroux said

Present at the ceremony were Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson; Donna Jordan, vice mayor of Carpinteria; Sharon Siegal, assistant to Congresswoman Lois Capps; First District Supervisor Naomi Schwartz; and clinic manager Therese McKenna. After the ribbon was cut, a tour of the new addition was given.

“Completing this project will allow us to meet the needs of the Carpinteria community well into the future,” Schwartz said. “It is a great asset.”

Currently, there are no further additions planned for the facility.

“This facility is now fabulous and will be much less crowded,” Mickiewicz said. “We are delighted.”