Thank you for visiting our website, and welcome. It has been over three years since the San Diego Health & Faith Alliance started its first clinical team training, in the context of a faith community, and in service to our neighbors in the City Heights area of San Diego. Since that opening day in the fall of 2003, that clinical training site has served as the "medical home," providing primary medical care to over one thousand individuals who have no other access to health care, and dispensing their medications to them - all provided free of charge. Our trainees and faculty consider this opportunity for learning and service to be a wonderful privilege.
In the spring of 2006, we blessed the new Mobile Clinic, which now visits the parking lots of congregations and community service agencies in the following communities: Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Downtown San Diego, North Park, Hillcrest/Balboa Park area, El Cajon, and two churches in Chula Vista. Hundreds of individuals are served at these locations, in addition to those who continue their care at our City Heights location. In our work we see people of tremendous strength and courage, facing serious, life threatening challenges that most of us expect to be under a physician's care - but the serious problem of tens of thousands of our neighbors without health care insurance continues.
Take the single mother of two teenagers: she is in her mid-40's, she works full time in a service-industry job that she enjoys, but she has no health care insurance. She has lived all her life in San Diego; she has an A.A. degree in Child Development, and loves working in this field. She also has a family history of colon polyps and colon cancer in the family, and she had surgery for colon cancer herself 10 years ago. She has no access to health care for follow-up, and she said, "I can pay just over $1,000.00 a month for health insurance, or I can pay my mortgage - my kids need a roof over their heads, so I pay my mortgage." She was able to get her primary care needs met free of charge at the Mobile Clinic, and we referred her to a gastroenterologist through the Reach Out Project, and she was able to save for a reduced rate on the colonoscopy that she very much needed.
Then there is the teacher's assistant who was laid off from her job in May, and her health care insurance ran out shortly thereafter. She came to us because she was feeling very tired, she had a terrible headache and felt she could not leave her house. She had run out of her medications for her severe hypertension and diabetes about 2 weeks prior. Her blood glucose was over 400 and her blood pressure was 200/110. After her medications were re-started and adjusted, her glucose and blood pressure were normal, and she now feels well enough to look for a new job.
And the young professional man in his 30's who walked up to the Mobile Clinic, "…just to check it out." When he finally agreed to come in to talk with a doctor, he mentioned that he had been making definite plans to kill himself. After a few weeks of treatment, he was back with his family and back to his work, and had renewed his commitment to living.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that San Diego County has nearly 3 million documented residents. Depending on whose study you read, somewhere between one-fourth to one-third of these neighbors do not have health care insurance - that's between 750,000-to-1,000,000 people - far more than the San Diego Health & Faith Alliance can possibly serve. Those with no health care insurance have very poor access to care and typically receive care that is delayed and often in the hospital emergency departments.
In today's health care marketplace, having no insurance typically means having no access to health care. And as illustrated above, that lack of health care access can lead to the advancement of hidden illnesses, and ultimately loss of jobs, homes, relationships, and premature loss of life. A group of health professions faculty members from several San Diego area Universities is collaborating with concerned faith-based organizations, parishes, congregations, and with community service agencies to provide care to those who cannot afford health care insurance. Their goal is to care for the those in need, and teach our community's future health and human services professionals while they're doing it...they have formed The San Diego Health & Faith Alliance.