The property on which the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic sits is now a county-owned property, what used to be the site of St. Athanasius church, 970 and 881 Embarcadero del Norte. The county was told by the state to prove that the facilities were for government use or be forced to sell the properties, as part of the dissolution of the redevelopment agencies (RDA) in California. Another factor in considering the sale of the property was the financial hardship that the umbrella group, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, had gone through in recent times. When time came for the Board of Supervisors to make a decision, the organization received considerable funding, and the clinics’ future looked brighter.
To the Isla Vista and Goleta communities, it was pretty obvious that the closure of the I.V. clinic would affect thousands of families in the area, since the medical clinic saw about 1,000 patients per month. With all of this in people’s minds, the community lobbying poured out to the Board of Supervisors asking the supervisors to keep the clinic open. Finally, on October 15, 2013, the Board of Supervisors voted to keep the church building as well as the parking area and, of course, the clinic. This was great news. But the decision must pass the California Department of Finance, which is responsible for determining the fate of RDA projects.
Last week there was even better news: Congressmember Lois Capps announced that the Neighborhood Clinics had received an $812,500 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will be used to establish and operate a clinic in Goleta in an effort to serve nearly 19,000 medically underserved people through January 31, 2015. Thereafter, Neighborhood Clinics will receive $650,000 per year.
The new clinic will serve 3,750 individuals and provide more than 13,500 medical, dental, and behavioral visits each year. The clinics’ team will also provide chronic disease management and preventive services, prenatal services, care for the homeless, and other services to address barriers to health and well-being.
Families in the I.V. area need more, not fewer services. A county report released last week documents Isla Vista as one of four areas in the county experiencing high poverty. Utilizing the church building as a family one-stop center in which families could find a variety of services essential for their lives, such as landlord-tenant mediation, immigration counseling, domestic violence solutions, rape crisis counseling, truancy prevention, information and services for victims of crimes, police crime prevention, parenting classes, and so on, plus the medical services offered by the clinic, is a greatly needed solution to this community’s many challenges.
These types of “service hubs” already exist in other counties, and they have proven to be a great asset for families and individuals living in those areas. We’re living in different times, and we need different solutions that are simultaneously creative and address the most imperative needs of the people.
Editor’s Note: This story has been changed to reflect that the I.V. clinic land is not yet saved; that decision rests in the hands of the California Department of Finance.