July 28, 2020 | 4:53 p.m.

Paul Jaconette, DWW–SBSM Board president and CenCal Health COO, shares plaque with Marguerite Sanchez, co-founder, board secretary/treasurer of Doctors Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street Medicine. (Courtesy photo)

Doctors Without Walls ­– Santa Barbara Street Medicine (DWW–SBSM) has been nationally recognized for its healthcare efforts to benefit the homeless in the Santa Barbara community.

Nominated by local Medi-Cal managed care plan CenCal Health, DWW–SBSM received an honorable mention from the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) at its 15th annual Supporting the Safety Net Award program held in June.

The earned recognition honors community organizations and individuals nationwide that exceed expectations for care by implementing health programs to benefit underserved populations.

Throughout its 15-year history, DWW–SBSM has provided free on-the-street medical care to Santa Barbara County’s most vulnerable residents when and where they need it.

In 2019, at its site-specific street clinics, locations without brick and mortar structures, DWW–SBSM served some 500 unduplicated patients and had nearly 1,370 medical encounters, from respiratory diseases to women’s healthcare to mental health counseling among other services.

Studies show that those experiencing unsheltered homelessness are significantly more likely to have reoccurring and life-threatening health conditions compared to the general population or people living in shelters.

“As board president, I am honored to accept this recognition on behalf of Doctor’s Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street Medicine for their transformative work. Partnerships between community-based organizations and Safety Net Health Plans like CenCal Health are fundamental in all communities,” said Paul Jaconette, DWW–SBSM Board president and CenCal Health COO.

“Together we strive to meet the ultimate goal: provide a coordinated response that effectively addresses the medical and social needs of vulnerable, underserved populations,” Jaconette said. “We appreciate CenCal Health for nominating Doctors Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street Medicine and thank the Association for Community Affiliated Plans for the honorable mention.”

DWW–SBSM serves in the most austere environments such as agricultural fields, cars, parks, encampments and shelters. But beyond providing immediate medical attention, the goal is to guide clients into permanent medical homes that are comprehensive, accessible and focused on quality of care.

One avenue used to provide guidance is the Companion Care program, which matches trained student volunteers with homeless individuals. Together, companions and patients streamline the process of making and attending medical appointments. This results in seeking regular treatment and management for chronic conditions before they become costly emergencies.

The program’s efforts are also focused on addressing other social determinants of health, which can affect the quality of life. In 2019, more than 3,250 services were provided by the Companion Care team, including coordinating medical visits, resources for food, water and clothing.

This is the second year in a row that ACAP has selected a submission from CenCal Health for recognition. Last year, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) presented its 14th annual Supporting the Safety Net Award to Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC), also nominated by CenCal Health, the community-accountable health plan in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and an ACAP member.

CenCal Health is a community-accountable health plan that partners with 1,500 local physicians, hospitals and other providers in delivering patient care to more than 180,000 members, about one in four residents of Santa Barbara County and one in five residents of San Luis Obispo County.

A public agency, the health plan contributes about $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve its membership. Established in 1983, it is the oldest managed care Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation.

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, the Marketplace, and other publicly sponsored health programs. For more, visit