Portable Outdoor COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics Open at Area Shelters, Parks, Streets
Doctors Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street Medicine (DWW-SBSM) began vaccinating the local community’s vulnerable populations against COVID-19 on March 19. In partnership with Santa Barbara County Public Health, DWW has held two vaccination clinics per week beginning mid-March.
As of April 1, DWW-SBSM has vaccinated over 500 people in congregant settings including Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, PATH, Faulding Hotel, Riviera Hotel, and Isla Vista Pallet City. In addition, DWW-SBSM is vaccinating those experiencing unsheltered homelessness at portable outdoor clinics in Alameda Park and other locations around the city. Beginning in Carpinteria this week, DWW-SBSM clinics will also vaccinate migrant agriculture workers.
“We’d like to thank our Public Health Department for providing the vaccine,” said Maggie Sanchez, Interim Executive Director for DWW– SBSM. “We also appreciate their coordination of the area shelters on our behalf. DWW-SBSM has partnered with Public Health since 2009 when we co-responded to the H1N1 pandemic.”
Throughout its 15-year history, DWW–SBSM has provided free on-the-street medical care to Santa Barbara County’s most vulnerable residents – when and where they need it. The non-profit organization has had a vigorous flu vaccine program since 2009. In 2017, when there was a HEP A outbreak in southern California, DWW-SBSM began the HEP A vaccination program.
At its site-specific street clinics – locations without brick and mortar structures, DWW–SBSM has annually served more than 500 unduplicated patients and had nearly 1,370 medical encounters, ranging from respiratory diseases to women’s healthcare to mental health counseling among other services. Studies show that those experiencing unsheltered homelessness are significantly more likely to have reoccurring and life-threatening health conditions compared to the general population or people living in shelters.
“Many of the homeless clients served by DWW are CenCal Health members but are unable – due to their life circumstances – to access the healthcare system or are difficult to contact,” said Paul Jaconette, DWW-SBSM Board president and CenCal Health Chief Operating Officer. “Doctors Without Walls helps these members get back to their healthcare providers and avoid ER visits.”
DWW–SBSM serves in the most austere environments such as agricultural fields, cars, parks, encampments and shelters. Last week’s vaccination sites include the Salvation Army Transition and Recovery Center and the El Carrillo apartments.
For this vaccination work, DWW-SBSM employs a part-time Daytime Outreach Worker. Volunteers complete all of the other tasks including setup, intake, staging, record keeping, monitoring and follow-up.
More information about DWW–SBSM, including donation opportunities, can be found at sbdww.org/.