Puttin’ the Water To It—California Community Clinics

Posted on July 11, 2012 by Pam Truitt

Southern vernacular can be the most entertaining mix of words --and since I call the South the home of my body and soul (Charlotte, NC is my place of birth) -- I enthusiastically partake in our cultural pastime. If you plant a garden, lay sod in the front yard, or re-pot plants, the correct term for watering the new plantings is “put the water to it”. In some southern neighborhoods, that might be interpreted as ‘turn on the sprinkler system’. However, wide swaths of the South would consider this as "New South Uppity" because the true meaning is--get out the garden hose and hook it up to the sprinkler head, or stand with one hand on hip and give it a real-good soaking! The purpose, of course, is to stabilize the new plantings, setting the stage for growth.

That’s exactly what’s happening with California’s network of community clinics. Gardeners are at work, puttin’ the water to it.

As a backdrop, California is home to 264 licensed primary care clinics, whose mission is to serve a low-income population and whose main funding has historically come from federal and state reimbursement. Annually, these clinics serve around three-quarters of a million patients who live at or below the federal poverty level. Needless to say, this health safety-net is under tremendous stress.

Gardeners in Action

1. The California Catalyst Fund, launched 2012, is a funders collaborative between the California Healthcare Foundation and Blue of California Foundation to provide technical assistance/neutral facilitators for two or more community clinics interested in exploring partnerships. The Nonprofit Finance Fund manages the initiative.

2. Encore Fellows (a program of San Francisco-based Civic Ventures) just announced a partnership with the California Healthcare Foundation to couple former corporate professionals with community clinics. Now, 17 professionals with expertise in financial management, human resources, information technology, process improvement, and strategic planning will spend 1,000 hours over the next year, working hand-in-hand to bring excellence to the clinic business practices. (A few months ago, I introduced Encore to readers.)

3. Literature, including presentations, case studies, technical resources, assessment tools and lessons-learned support the learning journey.

As with any garden, the strong survive and it takes a good bit of work to make that happen. Kudos to California for puttin’ the water to it!

Are readers aware of any successes of this work? Please share!

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