February 4, 2023
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Neighborhood Clinics get funds to continue operation


Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics will not close its doors on Monday, thanks to hundreds of thousands of dollars in community support.

The nonprofits clinics, which serve low-income and uninsured residents on the South Coast, has been struggling financially and said in May that it would be forced to shut down if it couldn’t find the funds to continue operating.

“What we need from the community is six months of financial support,” SBNC CEO Mark Palmer said at a May 22 press conference, adding that operating the organization’s four clinics for six months requires $1.5 million. The organization currently has a $200,000 deficit each month, and Palmer said then that clinics would close within six months if the agency didn’t raise at least that much per month over the following nine weeks to cover costs.

In an announcement sent on Thursday, July 11, the Santa Barbara Foundation said funders have made put forth $250,000 that will be distributed to the clinics on Friday. Two additional payments, totaling $350,000, will be made if milestones in a 100-day strategic plan are reached.

Cottage Health System has underwritten the cost of an independent health care consultant to help the clinics develop a long-term business model.

“The result of the independent consultant’s report is an outline for a 100-day transition plan that has energetically addressed operational issues with clear goals and milestones so that SBNC can once again regain firm footing,” the Santa Barbara Foundation said in a news release. “While much work still needs to be done, funders believe that the plan and the actions already taken have sufficient credibility to warrant immediate investment.”

At press time, participating funders included the Santa Barbara Foundation, Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation, Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Cottage Health System, Mosher Foundation, Hutton Parker Foundation, Linked Foundation, James S. Bower Foundation, Sansum Clinic, Outhwaite Foundation, Saint Francis Foundation, Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, The Fund for Santa Barbara, the Gildea Foundation and individual donors.

The neighborhood clinics provide health care services to more than 17,000 South Coast families who depend on the nonprofit as their only option for affordable care, the Santa Barbara Foundation said. “What was and remains front and center, is the need for the Santa Barbara community to continue to insure access to quality affordable care for thousands of its residents — as a matter of compassion, common sense, and overall well being of our health system,” Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a news release.

The clinic’s struggles also come as Cottage Health System and Sansum Clinic, the two largest health care providers in south Santa Barbara County, plan to merge, greatly consolidating access to health care in the area. [LINK]

Unlike the other nonprofit health care clinics serving low-income residents in the Tri-Counties, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics does not get much funding beyond community donations and federal grants, both sources that dried up during the economic downturn.

Clinicas del Camino Real in Ventura County told the Business Times in May that it has stayed on solid financial ground by using a sliding scale that asks patients to pay what they can. The system allows it to get some income from patients who can afford it while not refusing care to anyone.

The Free Clinic of Simi Valley said it has a different approach — it relies on volunteer physicians and nurses to administer free care.


  1. Interested Citizen says:

    OK, I found out that the company is Financial Healthcare Strategies, with come of their main staff being identified as being former State of Florida Department of Health officials. OK. I could not find any reference to MEDI-CAL (unique to CA), or California, or even community clinics on its site. Lots of Hospital reimbursement stuff, but no Public Health Community Safety Net folks. Maybe I just missed them, maybe they are too far down the “food chain” at FHS to be listed, or maybe this analysis was not from a purely clinic point of view. Again, I”m just asking some questions. If someone out there can point me to the report itself, or summarize it for me, that would help.

  2. Interested Citizen says:

    What is the name of the consultant hired by CHS? Where can that report be obtained or reviewed for its efficacy? Usually the entity hiring a consultant has a quid pro quo with the consultant to get a result skewed in their favor. CHS has a huge stake in the success of the SBNC, since Cottage’s ER would sustain losses from a huge influx of uncompensated care.

    So, I’m just asking to see the report and what the recommendations were, and if they are consistent with community needs as a whole, and not just CHS’s needs.