Santa Barbara County has long been home to people experiencing homelessness and the Public Health Department has been providing services through the Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) program since 1988. There are approximately 6,250 people experiencing homelessness in the county and the program provided essential health care to 4,573 people in 2012.
Access to health care is provided through coordinated outreach integrated with an elaborate and effective clinic system. Our system has three Health Care Centers located within homeless shelters, six Public Health Department Health Care Centers and five non-profit community clinics that collaborate to serve all areas of the County.
Medical outreach is an important method of removing barriers to health care for those who are experiencing homelessness. The field service team consists of Public Health Nurses (PHNs) stationed in thirteen homeless shelters and transitional living centers. The nurses provide triage care and make referrals to the Health Care Centers and shelter-based clinics for those needing additional care.
The HCH program in Santa Barbara County continues to excel as a provider of health care to people who are homeless. The ongoing efforts of the team including Physicians, Dentists, Registered Nurses, Physicians Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Administrators, Health Educators, and Medical Assistants ensure services that otherwise would be unavailable to the homeless community.