The California Health Facilities Financing Authority announced last week that Berkeley’s LifeLong Medical Care clinics will receive a $408,374 grant and the Berkeley Free Clinic will receive $35,264 out of the $40 million grant money issued statewide.
According to LifeLong Medical Care acting CEO Melissa Schoen, the grant will be used for critical facility and information technology upgrades and replacement of outdated medical and dental equipment in four of LifeLong’s health clinics: West Berkeley Family Practice, Berkeley Primary Care, the Downtown Oakland Clinic, and LifeLong Dental Clinic.
“For 30 years, LifeLong has provided high quality health and social services to underserved people of all ages,” Schoen said. “These grants will enable us to continue to care for those who are low income and without health insurance, and work to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care.”
A major provider of medical services to the uninsured and to those with complex health needs in the East Bay, LifeLong provided approximately 101,000 primary care visits to nearly 17,000 people, among whom nearly half were uninsured, in 2005.
Schoen added that regular care prevented debilitating consequences that are costly to the patient and to California’s health care system. “Each time a patient chooses to use our primary care services rather than hospital emergency rooms, everyone benefits,” she said.
Dr. Shirley Livingston of Lifelong Dental Clinic said that a lot of equipment at the clinic was archaic and breaking down which interfered with patient care.
“Most of our patients, who come from financially underprivileged sections of society, are in a catch-22 situation,” she said. “Since we function on a very tight budget we have to make the most of grants like this, which are few and far between. This will help us to get new hand pieces and dental chairs, as well as lighting structures which we immediately need.”
Julie Sinai, senior aide for Mayor Tom Bates, called the clinics in the city a “safety net for the lower income and the under-served” and said that it was extremely important and valuable for the city that the grants had been awarded to these four clinics.