A coalition of donors has come forward to give the financially strapped Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics the cash it needs to stay open, the Santa Barbara Foundation announced Thursday.

The three clinics provide primary medical care and dental services to about half of the South Coast’s “safety-net” population — low-income, Medi-Cal, uninsured and homeless patients.

Clinic leaders made a plea in May for donations to stay afloat while they revamped the organization’s business model.


“What was and remains front and center is the need for the Santa Barbara community to continue to ensure access to quality affordable care for thousands of its residents — as a matter of compassion, common sense and overall well-being of our health system,” Santa Barbara Foundation president and CEO Ron Gallo said in announcing the donations.

The closures would be devastating to thousands of families, and no one knows — or probably dared to think — where the 17,000 patients the clinics serve each year would go.

Cottage Health System funded a consultant to analyze the SBNC’s financial system, which resulted in a 100-day transition plan.

The donors are giving $250,000 on Friday and an additional $350,000 if certain milestones are met.

“We’re excited and couldn’t be more appreciative of what the Santa Barbara Foundation and their partners are willing to do for us,” SBNC acting CEO Mark Palmer said. “The 56,000 times that we’re caring for somebody each year is incredibly important and incredibly important that we keep saving that. Most people believe the need is going to increase as changes are happening with the medical arena.”

Clinic leaders have found about $500,000 worth in improvements — increasing revenues or reducing expenses — over the last two months, and will continue their work as part of the transition plan.

“It’s a continuation of what we’ve been working on — more reimbursement, more people in the door, reducing expenses,” Palmer said.

Funders for this effort include the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation, the Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Cottage Health System, the Mosher Foundation, the Hutton Parker Foundation, the Linked Foundation, the James S. Bower Foundation, the Sansum Clinics , the Outhwaite Foundation, the Saint Francis Foundation, the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, The Fund for Santa Barbara and the Gildea Foundation, as well as individual donors.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.