By Christopher Stathis

It all started on a warm Saturday, August 13th, 2016. Patients in Lompoc started to receive care from Doctors Without Walls- Santa Barbara Street Medicine. This population was identified thanks to the help of Jeff Shaffer who gave a tip about the need in Lompoc. After a scouting mission from Jason Prystowsky and Maria Long, the board of DWW-SBSM decided that Lompoc needed our resources.

Our very own Matt Sumethasorn was able to forge a bond with the population thanks to how close and open the Lompoc community is. Pastor Brian from Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Lompoc welcomed DWW-SBSM with open arms. Trinity Church of the Nazarene allows the Lompoc clinic to operate in their parking lot on the second and fourth Saturday of each month where people are given shelter, food, and services.

In the period of January 1st – December 31st, 2017, there were 328 encounters and 156 unduplicated patients seen at the Lompoc Clinic.

Matt’s passion for the clinic is rooted in the sense of community he finds whenever he goes in the Mobile Medical Clinic with a band of volunteers. In Santa Barbara, the patients tend to constantly migrate, so we don’t always see the same faces every week, except for a pleasant few. In Lompoc, it is not surprising to speak with the same person on different days frequently. This repeated exposure to the same people allows Matt to gain the trust of the population.

In an interview with Matt, he reminisced about the moment he felt Lompoc’s trust had been gained. One of our new friends that had been treated at the Lompoc Clinic had passed away and this man’s wife invited Matt to the funeral. Matt attended the service and could see how much it meant for him to show up. It is a testament to how committed DWW-SBSM is to meeting people where they are at and how much the volunteers truly care about the communities they serve.

Some may wonder if this is a sustainable clinic, given that we need to drive all the way to Lompoc and back. These worries are unnecessary because starting May 2018, an attending and a resident from Marian Hospital in Santa Maria will be coming to the clinic. This is to ensure that local clinicians and volunteers will be helping at the Lompoc Clinic to provide a sustainable resource for the community in Lompoc.