Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics Receives 2019 Supporting the Safety Net Award in Washington D.C.

June 21, 2019

CenCal Health Initiates Award Nomination of Local Provider

Last night, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) presented its fourteenth annual Supporting the Safety Net Award to Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC). The organization was nominated for the award by ACAP member plan CenCal Health, the community-accountable health plan in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

At its multiple clinics throughout Santa Barbara County, SBNC provides quality, comprehensive, affordable healthcare to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. It is a critical health safety net for the community and provides care to over 22,000 patients a year, or 1 out of 10 people in its coverage area. Of these nearly 30% are children. A recent study found that Santa Barbara County has the third highest poverty rate for residents in California; 23% of area residents live below the poverty line.

sbncPictured (left to right) is Charles C. Fenzi, MD, Chief Executive Officer/Chief Medical Officer for SBNC with Leslie Ann Kearney, Director of Quality for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and Takashi Michael Wada, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer for CenCal Health.

The Supporting the Safety Net Award recognizes a community-based organization or individual that exceeds expectations for care by implementing programs to meet the health needs of underserved populations. These role models exemplify best practices and represent an innovation in health care. ACAP, the award presenter, is a national trade association which represents not-for-profit Safety Net Health Plans, like CenCal Health.

“Partnerships between community-based organizations and Safety Net Health Plans are an essential element of making sure that the health needs of everyone in a community is met, especially populations with the lowest incomes,” stated ACAP CEO Margaret A. Murray. “SNBC is a vital part of the safety net in Santa Barbara County, and we couldn’t be prouder to recognize their commitment to their community.”

SBNC’s programs include the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program, a partnership with NYU Langone Hospital aimed at addressing chronic tooth decay in children, and a Bridge Clinic program which functions as a support and referral service for at-risk adults diagnosed with substance use disorder. Additionally, “Wellness Navigators” identify children with adverse childhood experiences. Therapeutic interventions and social services are provided to their families through a resiliency program.

SBNC maintains a strong commitment to serving minority communities and delivering culturally competent care. About 63 percent of SBNC patients are Hispanic, about 2 in 3 SBNC employees are of Hispanic descent and all of their medical assistants are bilingual.

SNBC is also committed to serving the transgender community and provides extensive proficiency training for all staff members to ensure the comfort of their trans patients.

“Our organization is delighted to be in a position to provide access to a larger number of patients, for a larger number of services. Our providers are among the best in the nation and are assisted by an amazingly skilled and compassionate staff,” said Charles C. Fenzi, MD, Chief Executive Officer/Chief Medical Officer for SBNC.

The Supporting the Safety Net award was presented at ACAP’s annual CEO Summit in Washington, D.C. on June 20. Dr. Fenzi accepted the award in person on behalf of SBNC.

“We are proud to have put forth SBNC for this prestigious national award,” said CenCal Health CEO Bob Freeman. “SBNC’s innovative and often unique programs and initiatives have well-served local residents, including our members. We are grateful that a national organization recognized this vital healthcare provider in our community.”

About Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics:

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC) consists of 4 medical clinics, 2 dental clinics, an integrated care clinic, a substance disorder clinic and health promotion services. SBNC provides high quality, comprehensive, affordable healthcare to all people, regardless of their ability to pay, in an environment that fosters respect, compassion and dignity. It is a critical health safety net for Santa Barbara County and provides care to close to 22,000 unduplicated patients a year, or 1 out of 10 people in this community.

About ACAP:

ACAP represents 66 health plans which collectively provide health coverage to more than 20 million people in 29 states. Safety Net Health Plans serve their members through Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Marketplace and other publicly-sponsored health programs. For more information, visit

About CenCal Health:

CenCal Health’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve by providing access to high quality health services, along with education and outreach, for our membership. As a public entity, CenCal Health is a community-accountable health plan partnering with over 1,500 local physicians, hospitals and other providers in delivering

exceptional patient care to more than 175,000 members – about one in four residents of Santa Barbara County and one in five residents of San Luis Obispo County. Established in 1983, it is the oldest managed Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation. CenCal Health employs close to 250 people at offices in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, and contributes approximately $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve their membership.

CenCal Health Contact:

Nicolette Worley Marselian 1(805) 685-9525 ext.1993

Media Contact:

Sheri Mobley 1(805) 845-5627 or 1(213) 509-9816