On December 6, the S.B. Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC) held an intimate soirée in the Fireside Room at the El Encanto to celebrate the whopping and much needed $3 million donation by Anna and David Grotenhuis to its Healthy People Healthy Communities Campaign. According to CEO and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles Fenzi, “SBNC is indeed grateful, humbled, and excited about Anna and David’s gift,” which is the largest in SBNC’s history. The campaign, which seeks to raise $20 million for a new Westside clinic, other facility and equipment replacements, and operating funds, still has about $6 million left to raise.
The 60 or so major donors and other guests mingled before being welcomed during the program by Fenzi, who recognized Honorary Co-Chair Elisabeth Fowler and her husband Gregory Fowler and Honorary Co-Chair Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree as huge supporters of SBNC and other healthcare organizations.
Fenzi shared how when he was a family physician prior to joining SBNC, more than half of his patients had some form of mental illness, either caused by or a cause of their physical illness. So since coming to SBNC, he has made the integration of mental and physical healthcare a priority at the clinics. SBNC now has two psychiatrists on staff, Dr. Kayla Rosen and Dr. Paul Erickson, and each clinic has a behavioral health specialist.
Elisabeth Fowler praised SBNC for its incredible work, serving everyone with dignity, compassion, and empathy. Lady Ridley-Tree, who has been a supporter of SBNC for nearly 30 years, related how she invited Anna Grotenhuis to a luncheon with some SBNC supporters because she wanted to introduce her to the clinics, but had no idea that it would lead to a $3 million gift, which drew much laughter from the group.
Anna shared how at the luncheon, Ridley-Tree lauded SBNC and told an impassioned, straight-from-the-heart story about how she knew what it was like to be in a place where one can’t get help. This and the impressive array of other SBNC supporters at the luncheon sold Anna on the clinics. Then, Anna related, she was given a tour of one of the clinics and “was really blown away.” After seeing the crowded waiting rooms, meeting the outstanding staff, and observing the quality of care, she related, they just had to make the donation. David concurred and shared his gratitude for the people behind the clinics. He added that giving to SBNC is a twofer — it is like giving to Cottage Health as well, because SBNC serves many patients who otherwise would end up at Cottage Hospital’s ER.
Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics has medical clinics on the Westside, on the Eastside, in Goleta, and in Isla Vista. It has dental clinics on the Eastside and in Goleta and an integrated care clinic on the Westside. SBNC takes major insurance, operates on a sliding fee scale for patients with and without insurance, and never turns away anyone for an inability to pay. SBNC serves about 22,000 unduplicated patients each year, 92 percent of whom are low-income.
Reimbursement for patient services covers only about 70 percent of its $19.5 million annual budget. Most patients with insurance have Medicare or Medi-Cal, which does not reimburse for the full cost of services and about 30 percent of those served have no insurance. Moreover, some services, while essential, are not covered by insurance. Federal grants make up 14 percent of the budget, and the remaining 16 percent comes from community support.
The $20 million campaign seeks $6.75 million for a new clinic on the Westside to replace the converted home, built in 1928, that it currently uses. The new state-of-the-art clinic will be three times the size and offer medical, dental and behavioral health services. Another $3.75 million is earmarked for reserves for other facility and equipment replacement, for which the need is great, and $10 million is to cover the gap in operating funds for the next five years.
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