Seeing community needs growing daily and people searching for life-sustaining resources almost from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic compelled El Camino Health’s community benefit team to proactively ramp up efforts to provide emergency grants to help address vital needs and increase resources. Shortly after shelter in place started, the team reached out to current grantee agencies to better understand the pressing needs their organizations were experiencing as a result of the pandemic.
“Within a short period of time, we identified the most urgent needs and the programs that could address them - seven organizations in the District and nine in the communities the hospitals serve,” said Barbara Avery, director of community benefit. “Along with El Camino Health CEO Dan Woods and other senior leaders, we determined what these special grants would, and would not cover and quickly moved to grant $240,000 to these nonprofits.”
It was a collaborative conversation geared toward learning what was needed most and how the Community Benefit program could assist. Annually, the Community Benefit Grant Programs set money aside in placeholder funds, which is available to provide grants in times of emergencies. As such, the funds must be used by the end of the fiscal year in June of 2020 and must go toward getting services directly to those in need.
“Our priority was to support safety net clinics so patients would, for example, still be able to access diabetic testing supplies and medications if they could no longer afford them, “explains Barbara. “We also supported the implementation of telehealth platforms so healthcare providers could quickly and safely communicate with patients.”
The community benefit team oversees El Camino Health and El Camino Healthcare District’s Community Benefit program which annually fund grants for safety-net clinics, nonprofit organizations, community service agencies and school districts, dedicated to addressing the health needs of underserved and vulnerable community members in El Camino Healthcare District and the neighboring areas of the hospitals.
“Due to COVID-19, people who had never been out of work before were now having to navigate a complex system and struggling to find the resources, and moreover, those already vulnerable and unemployed found themselves in further despair with additional barriers to needed care,” added Barbara. “During this pandemic, we have focused resources for organizations providing case management services to assist clients in obtaining the most basic needs, such as food, housing and medication.”
Many diverse needs rose to the top. The community benefit team pivoted quickly to respond to these growing needs while adhering to guidelines that ensure grantees serve those most in need and can report back on the impact of the funds.
“Our work is a passion to serve at-risk community members and, especially now, we are a proud to be a strong partner to these amazing community organizations,” Barbara shared. “Our partners adapted impressively fast to extraordinary circumstances with the clear goals to continue critical services and also protect frontline staff. As time goes on, other challenges may emerge, and we want to stand ready to help in any way we can.”
The next round of annual grant funding will be approved by the El Camino Hospital and El Camino Healthcare District Boards in June and the team is already thinking about how they can be nimble and adjust to the innovative ways organizations are serving our diverse community.
Agencies that received COVID-19 emergency funds:
El Camino Health:
- West Valley Community Services: food and emergency assistance for community members
- LifeMoves: COVID-19 testing, food and shelter for homeless
- Better Health Pharmacy: medication for uninsured and low-income individuals
- Indian Health Center: diabetes prevention and management virtual classes
- Gardner Family Health Network: care for uninsured pre-diabetic and diabetic patients
- Peninsula Healthcare Connection: telehealth, TB testing, counseling and medication management for homeless
- Abode: emergency housing for at-risk community members
- Healthier Kids Foundation: urgent infant needs for low-income families
- Veggielution: emergency food delivery to food-insecure homes and vulnerable seniors in East San Jose
El Camino Healthcare District:
- Ravenswood Community Health Center: telehealth, chronic disease medications and HbA1c testing supplies for low-income individuals
- Meals on Wheels: meal delivery to seniors
- Sunnyvale Community Services: emergency assistance for medically-frail homeless and seniors and families at risk of homelessness
- Fresh Approach: produce box delivery to affordable housing communities
- Day Worker Center of Mountain View: meals for low-income individuals
- New Directions: care coordination for low-income patients and homeless
- Hope’s Corner: meals for low-income individuals and homeless