SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics are in need of urgent care from financial donors or the doors could close as soon as the end of July.
There are three clinic locations and one dental facility.
They serve low income and underinsured patients that are often refused elsewhere.
Executives have laid out a triage type plan to save the financially strapped clinics that includes a plea to the community for donations, along with efforts to seek federal grants, and an internal review to manage costs.
In the last year, however, the number of patients without insurance has gone up 10 percent.
Chief Medical Officer Charles Fenzi said, "the entire community needs to be healthy." He said if the lower income residents do not get medical care from the Neighborhood Clinics, they may wait until they have a serious problem and end up in the emergency room of Cottage Hospital. Fenzi also said the community overall would suffer in these conditions.
The clinics are also gearing up for the new health care reforms expected to take place in January.
That could bring up to 7000 new patients through the doors of the clinics located on the Santa Barbara Eastside, Santa Barbara Westside and in Isla Vista.
The Milpas St. location also has a dental clinic, the only one in the city that serves those without insurance and the homeless.
Clinic staff members say they served nearly 17,000 unduplicated patients last year, with over 56,000 total clinician visits. More than 95% of the patients are low-income or very low-income.
Dental Director Quynh Nguyen said in addition to their normal patient load, they also offer free check up days but the turnout is overwhelming. "The lines were around several blocks. People lined up the night before," said Nguyen.
An immediate drive for funds has begun to keep the clinics operating.
Donations may be made online at www.sbclinics.com or by mail at Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, 1900 State St. Suite G, Santa Barbara, Ca. 93101. Other information is available at (805)617-7869.
More details on this story will be posted later today.