Skip to content

New Santa Cruz health, dental clinics increase access to care

Kaiser Permanente grants to 2 clinics are part of a larger effort to fund local health and social service organizations. Pictured, Jovina Evangalista, right, takes X-rays of Oscar Gutierrez’s teeth at Dientes Community Dental in Santa Cruz.

Heather Edington of Scotts Valley brought her daughter Bliss to a brand-new Santa Cruz health clinic for a well check where she received eye and hearing exams and got help for wheezing from a recent cold.

Right next door in a similarly gleaming new building, Jovina Evangalista took X-ray images of Oscar Gutierrez’s teeth, which he admitted had not been done in a while.

The side-by-side Capitola Road medical and dental clinics on 3.7 acres opened December 5. They serve low-income area residents and are operated by Santa Cruz Community Health and Dientes Community Dental. The project, with low-income housing currently under construction on the same site, is the culmination of 5 years of planning and fundraising, with contributing construction grants from Kaiser Permanente.

Physician Assistant Eileen Donnelly, left, examines a young patient at the new Santa Cruz Community Health Center.
Physician Assistant Eileen Donnelly, left, examines a young patient at the new Santa Cruz Community Health Center.

In addition to the construction grants, both organizations received additional grants in 2022 from a Kaiser Permanente fund at the East Bay Community Foundation for operations and outreach. The health centers received $250,000 and Dientes received $100,000.

Those grants are part of a larger group of $1.5 million from the same Kaiser Permanente fund at the East Bay Community Foundation to 11 Santa Cruz area organizations. The grants are for services including food, housing, pediatric medical care, mental health care, senior health care, and youth affected by domestic and sexual violence.

The new Santa Cruz Community Health Centers building allows the organization to increase the number of patients seen at its local clinics by 3,000 each year, said Dena Loijos, chief strategy and impact officer.

The new Santa Cruz Community Health Center on Capitola Road in Santa Cruz.
The new Santa Cruz Community Health Center on Capitola Road in Santa Cruz.

“This project has allowed us to expand not only our quantity of services, but it has doubled our square footage so we can now offer optometry services, which is hugely needed in this area,” said Loijos. “We also have on-site behavioral health services including for substance abuse.”

The Kaiser Permanente grants to Dientes, Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, and other community organizations in the area play a critical role in building and maintaining a healthy community, said Yvette Radford, Kaiser Permanente Northern California vice president of External and Community Affairs.

“All of these grants address health disparities in our communities,” said Radford. “And that is central to the Kaiser Permanente mission of improving the health of our members and the communities we serve.”

The new Dientes dental clinic will serve 6,000 patients a year who otherwise could not get care in the Santa Cruz area because of a lack of providers who accept Medi-Cal, California’s health insurance plan for 13 million low-income residents statewide.

“In a community where 80,000 people use Medi-Cal, only 30,000 of them can get dental care,” said Sheree Storm, Dientes’ chief business development officer. “There are only 13 private dentists here who accept Medi-Cal and only 8 are accepting new patients.”

Storm said the partnership with the medical clinic next door allows Dientes to refer anxious dental patients who have not received care in a long time due to “not so good experiences” to visit a mental health professional before a procedure that would otherwise cause great mental distress.

Having both clinics and housing all in one place “is really incredible” said Loijos.

“And without the partnership with Kaiser Permanente, all this would not be possible.”







community healthgrants

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I’m all for giving grants where needed but Kaiser-Permanente seems to be giving way more than other organizations. I would like to see part of these funds used to lower my health premiums and costs. I’m 75, widowed, and on a fixed income. Health premiums, deductibles, and co-pays eat up a huge amount of my income. I have already had to choose a lower cost plan to be able to stay with Kaiser-Permanente.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      As a nonprofit health care organization, our work to improve health in our communities is a critical part of our mission. We do this in many ways, including providing grants to community-based organizations like those you recently read about.
      In addition, our nonprofit hospitals are required by state and federal regulations to identify and respond to important community health needs. Our targeted contributions to community organizations such as Santa Cruz Community Health Centers and Dientes Community Dental respond to prioritized community health needs, such as access to health care.

Leave a Reply

Comments Disclaimer

Many articles and features on Look insideKP Northern California offer readers the opportunity to share their opinions about a specific topic by making comments. Please do not include any confidential information in your comments, such as personal, medical, or financial information. Comments should be respectful and on-topic. We reserve the right to edit comments as necessary, will only post comments meeting our criteria, and in some instances reserve the right to not post comments. Thank you.

Back To Top

Don't miss out on stories from Look InsideKP
Northern California

Opt in to receive story headlines weekly.