Community Support Ensures Venice Family Clinic Continues to Serve Patients During COVID-19 Pandemic

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August 25, 2020
Volunteers Donated Nearly 74,000 Items, Gave Countless Hours and Contributed Generously to Nonprofit Community Health Center
 
LOS ANGELES – Because of an outpouring of community support and dedication from its staff, Venice Family Clinic has been able to continue to provide high-quality health care and other services to its nearly 28,000 patients during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The Clinic released a report detailing the extensive support it received from mid-March through June and how that support made its services possible when the pandemic required the nonprofit community health center to shift to virtual heath care visits.
 
Community support and staff dedication also made possible its transition of educational and Children First Early Head Start programs to online and the expansion of its free and healthy food distributions to people in need. In addition, the Clinic was able to adapt its street medicine program to safely care for people experiencing homelessness and help secure housing for them.
 
Community members donated nearly 74,000 face masks, bottles of hand sanitizer and many other much-needed items to provide health care. Donors contributed generously, and volunteers, like Keerthana Sivathasan, an undergraduate pre-med student at UCLA, gave countless hours calling patients to check in on how they were doing during the pandemic.
 
“During a time when social interaction and communication is limited, I can make a difference by making them feel like someone is out there for them and cares about them, which can be a very hard thought to maintain during such a strenuous time,” Sivathasan said. “This is an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life, and I hope we all continue to listen and help each other whenever others may need it.”
 
Naveena Ponnusamy, Venice Family Clinic chief development and communications officer, said the response from supporters has been “remarkable. We were able to shrink the revenue gap from canceled appointments and quickly transition to a new way of operating that continues to evolve as the situation with the virus evolves. The initial response has been heartening and affirming, and we know we can count on this support for the many months to come when it will continue to be greatly needed.”
 
With the community’s support, Venice Family Clinic has kept its five main clinics open since the start of the pandemic. It initially shifted to telehealth for 67% of appointments to ensure the safety of patients and staff and continues to evaluate the safety of providing in-person visits and adjust accordingly.
 
It increased its distribution of free and healthy food, delivering more than 170,000 pounds of food to patients and community members in need. The Clinic’s homeless services program is helping to secure housing for its patients through Project Roomkey, providing care at shelters created in response to the pandemic and assisting in COVID-19 testing for people experiencing homelessness.
 
“We are so thankful for the community’s generosity in providing us the tools we needed to adapt our protocols and services so that we are providing the safest and most effective care for our patients and staff,” said Anita Zamora, Venice Family Clinic’s deputy director and chief operating officer. “The only thing constant through all of this is change. During these stressful times, it is very comforting to know that we have a supportive community behind us providing the resources we need.”

About Venice Family Clinic
Venice Family Clinic is a leader in providing comprehensive, high-quality primary health care to people living in poverty. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Clinic has grown from a small storefront operation into one of Los Angeles’ leading community health centers, providing care to nearly 28,000 men, women and children annually through 12 sites in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Inglewood and Culver City. The Clinic leads the way in providing comprehensive and integrated care by creating a one-stop health system that offers multiple services, often at the same locations and same time as primary care appointments. These services include dental care, substance use treatment, mental health services, vision screenings, child development classes, health education, prescription medications, domestic violence counseling, HIV/AIDS services, street medicine for people experiencing homelessness and health insurance enrollment services. For more information, visit VeniceFamilyClinic.org. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
 
 
Pictured here: Venice Family Clinic, a nonprofit community health center, provides free and healthy food at its Culver City site to patients and the community to help keep people healthy. After its recent expansion, it expects to serve about 1,500 people a week at its Colen Health Center, 4700 Inglewood Blvd., No. 102, Culver City, CA 90230, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Photos courtesy of Venice Family Clinic.
Contact:
Michelle Stuffmann, Director of Communications
mstuffmann@mednet.ucla.edu, (310) 392-8630