The Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC) organization was formed in July of 1998 by merging three existing medical clinics that had provided care to low-income patients since the 1970s. The Isla Vista Health Projects opened in 1970, followed shortly by the Carrillo Clinic (originally the Freedom Clinic) in 1971, and the Westside Clinic in 1973.
All three clinics shared a common belief in providing medical services for families regardless of ability to pay, and were created on the philosophy that obtaining quality medical care is a fundamental right for all people. More than that, each of the clinics is, and has been an intrinsic part of its community and neighborhood. Because of their close relationships with the surrounding community and awareness of their neighborhood's special needs, a strong bond of trust has been formed between patients and each of our clinics.
Throughout their individual existences, each clinic has had to struggle and scrape and be relentlessly inventive in their efforts to keep their heads above financial water. From the beginning, patients paid what they could afford, using a sliding fee scale based on income. They continued to do so, even as a gap grew between what patients could afford and what it cost to treat them. The clinics solicited public and private financial aid to cover negative balances, but by 1996 all three clinics were in financial trouble and in 1997 only an infusion of community donations allowed the Westside Clinic to continue operation.
In 1996, the directors of each clinic obtained a grant from the Santa Barbara Community Clinics Association for the purpose of studying a merger, and the following year a feasibility study funded by the James Irvine Foundation concluded the benefits of merging the clinics outweighed the costs. The idea was to leverage shared strengths, avoid duplication of effort, attract the support of funding agencies, and reduce expenses. In 1999 the merger was completed, and the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics was born.
The Santa Barbara Children/Family Dental Health Collaborative (CFDHC) created the Carrillo Family Dental Clinic (CFDC) in 1996. The Carrillo Medical Clinic was the fiscal agent and CFDC has operated under its California Department of Health Service license since then. The Carrillo Medical Clinic was one of 11 collaborative partners that formally ran the CFDC for seven years. The Collaborative included: Carpinteria Unified School District Healthy Start Project, Catholic Charities, Cornelia Moore Dental Foundation, Cottage Health System, County Department of Public Health (Dental Access Resource Team and Children’s Dental Disease Prevention Program), Direct Relief International, St. Francis Parish Nursing, Santa Barbara School District Healthy Start Project, Santa Barbara/Ventura County Dental Society, and Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC).
In 2002, SBNC raised $2.4 million to support the move of the Carrillo Medical Clinic to the Eastside of Santa Barbara, as the property on which the clinic had been located for the previous 20 years had been sold. To make sure our patients were guaranteed continuity of care, our goal was to make the move and establish a new Eastside Neighborhood Clinic and Health Program Center, located at 915 N. Milpas St. In 16 months, we completed the fundraising to purchase the land the clinic now sits on, and added square footage for a Health Program Center on the 2nd floor. The Eastside Neighborhood Clinic and Health Program Center opened as planned in April 2002 and has continued serving the community of Santa Barbara to meet health care and education needs of those who are uninsured or otherwise underserved.
In September of 2003, CFDC formalized their relationship with SBNC and was renamed the Eastside Family Dental Clinic (ESFDC). Thus began a $1 million Capital Campaign to purchase the building next to the Eastside Neighborhood Clinics with the intention of building a 5-chair operating dental clinic. The ESFDC opened its doors in 2004 and by October 2008 was seeing 960 people each month, 80% of those being children!
In 2006 we completed another Capital Campaign to renovate our Administrative offices and build a second Health Program Center on the 2nd floor over the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic. This increased the number of low-income residents receiving health and nutrition education services. Funding came in part from a state grant and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Foundation giving a lead gift toward the completion of this capital project. Many individuals and foundations came together in support of this campaign, playing a crucial role in creating healthier communities in Goleta and Isla Vista.
The SBNC has an active and talented Board of Directors, drawn from the original clinics’ three separate Board of Directors; we have since augmented it with many more talented members of the professional and volunteer community.
Today, SBNC is THE critical health safety net for Santa Barbara County and provides care to nearly 17,000 unduplicated low-income patients a year. In FY 2010, SBNC was responsible for over 70,000 patient and health education visits. SBNC is fortunate in its ability to fill substantial funding gaps through fundraising events, donations, and public and private grants.