The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] – Volume 23, Number 25
The Lompoc-based non-profit organization recently opened to provide free medical services to members of the community
By Taylor O’Connor
Housing, food, childcare and energy bills often come before paying for doctor’s appointments in some low-income households, which can cause people to avoid primary and preventative care, leading to future ER visits, especially in northern Santa Barbara County, according to Eryn Shugart.
Shugart is the executive director of Savie Health — a Lompoc-based 501(c)3 nonprofit clinic that provides primary care to people without medical insurance — which opened in June in direct response to the growing need for health care. affordable health.
“Our goal is health equity and to provide health care to people from all walks of life, to people who may not be documented, and to ensure that everyone has access to high quality health care. with the aim of reducing the number of incidents in chronic health care. terms,” she said.
Savie Health is the brainchild of Dr. Ahmad Nooristani, founder of the SLO-based free healthcare clinic, the SLO Noor Foundation. After working at Lompoc Valley Medical Center, Nooristani saw the need to expand those services to Santa Barbara County, Shugart continued.
“We are important because I will say that Lompoc and Santa Maria have been designated as medically underserved communities and areas of shortage of health care providers,” she said.
In the first eight weeks of its doors (two days a week), Savie’s volunteer clinicians have seen more than 100 patients outside the Lompoc Valley Medical Center and recently added behavioral wellness to its services, Shugart said.
“It was really intentional of me to focus on adding behavioral health as soon as possible. Physical and emotional well-being are so intertwined; if someone is experiencing a lot of emotional challenges like depression and anxiety, these conditions are impacting his physical health,” she added.
By adding behavioral health, the clinic will be able to help the whole person, especially in light of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. Savie Health has added two licensed clinical social workers to help people find childcare, housing and transportation, as well as counseling for those with mental health issues like depression and anxiety, said Shugart.
“The majority of our healthcare providers are local doctors here in Lompoc, and they volunteer their time to see our patients, which of course we are very grateful for. I will say a lot of the patients we see are people who haven’t been to the doctor for a number of years,” she continued.
Savie will also cover lab tests, x-rays and mammograms and provide low-cost medication. Eventually, she says, the clinic would like to add cardiology, vision, pediatrics and dental services. By 2023, Shugart said, she hopes the clinic will expand its services to four days a week, up from two, but funding and finding specialists willing to see patients for free remains a concern.
“We are entirely donation-based, and therefore our services are not reimbursed by the government. All of our funding comes from grants and individuals. If we cannot raise enough money, it will be difficult for us to continue operating and expanding our days and services,” she said.
Savie Health is always looking for people to coordinate volunteers and help with marketing, as well as additional healthcare providers and general office volunteers. Call (805) 743-4776 or email [email protected] for more information.
• Marian Regional Medical Center celebrated its ninth annual Day of Hope on August 17 to support local cancer patients in need at the Mission Hope Cancer Center. In partnership with the Santa Maria Times, the Day of Hope team sold special editions of Day of Hope newspapers. Additionally, the organization hosted a community car parade, as well as a Friends of Cruzin’ for Life BBQ which benefited this year’s event.
Taylor O’Connor wrote This Week’s Spotlight. She can be contacted at [email protected]