I have lots of good news to share about all that San Francisco Community Health Center has being doing throughout 2020, particularly in response to Covid-19 and all the services we have been able to provide to everyone impacted in the Tenderloin neighborhood. We have been tenacious, dogged, and courageous in the face of a global pandemic.
My team at San Francisco Community Health Center met the extraordinary challenges presented in 2020 with awe-inspiring gusto, compassion, perseverance, and groundbreaking solutions. I am so proud of who we are. And from what we know now, based on the best data and science available, 2021 promises to be another wildly unpredictable year. So, I am personally asking for your support to help us get our most vulnerable community members through what we can only anticipate will be unparalleled times. Your gift will help ensure that San Francisco Community Health Center continues to stand at the ready to meet any and all obstacles that might come our way.
I’m not sure 2020 could have been any stranger and oblique, dizzying and perplexing. We lost some of our greats – Congressmember John Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg – in addition to too many Black people. Too many Black Trans individuals. And, we were hit with a pandemic of epic proportions. Do you remember your life pre-Covid-19? It seems so distant, and yet it was only eight months ago. Compounded by all the fires here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I remember one day when we were covered in ash and smoke. The air and sky were the same dark orange-red color, never-changing as the hours passed. We didn’t know if it was morning, noon, or night. Indeed, our world had changed overnight.
And through it all, San Francisco Community Health Center never closed our doors. We transformed our services in a matter of hours in response to San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order issued in mid-March. We maintained onsite services for emergency and urgent medical and behavioral health services. We pivoted our drop-in programming to a “grab-n-go” model where we met our clients in front of our building, providing a bagged meal, medications, and a brief visit with their case manager. It became crystal clear to us that our homeless community was in desperate need of Covid-19 information which was changing day-to-day in the first few months. So, within a few weeks, we deployed more of our team members to provide services in the streets, alleyways, encampments, and shelters in our neighborhood of the Tenderloin. Our staff worked tirelessly to find city-funded hotel rooms for hundreds of our clients to shelter-in-place, isolate, and quarantine.
We have been doing incredible work and we are saving lives.
Our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alisson Sombredero’s strict adherence to data and science kept us safe. By keeping us informed, it kept all of our staff safe. And more than that, it kept our clients safe. Out of the 600 homeless patients we served during this time, only five have tested positive for Covid-19. We also have provided Covid-19 testing every two weeks for our entire staff. And, knock on wood, we haven’t had one staff test Covid-19 positive yet. Knowledge is power. This allowed us to remain open and safe for the most vulnerable in our community. It was our priority to keep our staff not only safe but with their jobs secure. We did this.
The world has also changed most recently because we are on the other side of the most contentious and off-the-charts insanity of our presidential elections. We can move forward knowing that the issues we care most about will have more support than before, we can undo much of the hate that was executive ordered, and we will do all we can to ring in the next era in honor of John Lewis’s good trouble!
And, we can only be this innovative and responsive and persevering because of the support from community members like you. Please consider a donation in support of our work. Knowing that you have our back is part of the formula for our success. Your donation will go a long way to sustain our vital, life-saving services to those who are struggling and suffering in these scary and difficult times.
With tremendous gratitude and a whole lot of hope for the next four years,
Lance Toma, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer