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Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics issues urgent appeal to avert local healthcare crisis


May 23, 2013

Leadership reports on current financial challenge and steps toward sustainability

SANTA BARBARA — Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC), which for 40 years has provided essential medical and dental care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay, is facing a financial emergency which could force the organization to close its doors, the health care provider reported in a media release on Wednesday.

SBNC must immediately reduce expenses and receive additional financial support through individual donations and foundation grants. On Wednesday at the SBNC Eastside Clinic on Milpas St., SBNC executive, medical and dental leadership presented the news media with an overview of current financial challenges and an update on SBNC’s plans to achieve sustainability.

“SBNC provides healthcare to 17,000 low income patients,” Mark Palmer, acting CEO stated in the release. “The dedicated clinicians and support staff care for working families and provide the safety net for those in need.”

The briefing was led by Palmer; Charles Fenzi, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Quynh Nguyen, DDS, Chief Dental Officer. Key points included:

Financial Challenges

  • Reimbursements for patient visits, set by government regulations, do not cover the cost of providing services. SBNC has historically depended on community support to fund this “mission gap”.
  • Today, changes in the healthcare landscape mean SBNC’s historical business model is not working. Patient services revenue has decreased while operating expenses and costs of complying with regulations have increased.  The mission gap is larger and is no longer matched by donations and grants.

Service to SBNC Patients Ongoing

  • SBNC continues to deliver quality care to patients at all three medical clinics and one dental clinic in Santa Barbara.  The clinics are open to all, with or without ability to pay.

Transition to a Sustainable Business Model

  • SBNC has asked for guidance and direction from Santa Barbara’s major health care providers (Cottage Health System CenCal Health, Sansum Clinic, and Santa Barbara County Public Health Department). An advisory group composed of the leaders of these organizations is working with SBNC to ensure the continuation of SBNC’s mission.
  • With financial support from Cottage Health System, SBNC has retained a leading professional health care consultant to evaluate all of the options available.
  • The Board of Directors of SBNC will make long-term decisions based on the consultant’s report, expected in early June.

“The Board of Directors, staff and patients ask for help to maintain our services for the next 6 months while we put the right long term solution in place,” Palmer said. “We are asking the community to give what they can, and we are asking the foundations to renew their commitment to the health of Santa Barbara.”

Donations may be made online at, by phone at 805-617-7869 or mailed to Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, 1900 State St., Suite G, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

About Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics:

The mission of Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is to provide high quality, comprehensive, affordable healthcare to all people, regardless of their ability to pay, in an environment that fosters respect, compassion and dignity.

In 2012 SBNC served nearly 17,000 unduplicated patients with over 56,000 total clinician visits.  More than 95% of SBNC patients are low-income or very low-income.

For more information, visit


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