More mobile health services coming to Mountain View

Health care district's $7 million grant program focuses on homeless and low-income residents

Responding to rising levels of homelessness and poor access to health care among the North County's neediest residents, the El Camino Healthcare District has approved more than $1.3 million in grants this year to fund mobile health services including primary and mental health care in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

The $7 million Community Benefit Program, which the district's board of directors approved last month, is designed to fill unmet health needs within the district, which includes Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and portions of Santa Clara and Cupertino.

The program has a long history of funding school nurses, mental health counselors and nutrition programs aimed at reducing hypertension and diabetes. But over the last two years, it has poured more and more money into health services on wheels -- mobile services that can hit the road and go from one location to the next bringing health care directly to low-income and homeless residents.

The district's largest allocation this year is a $1 million grant to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center to bring the Valley Homeless Healthcare Program's medical mobile unit to key locations in Mountain View and Sunnyvale each week.

The mobile clinic's high-seven-figure cost is due to its unusually high staffing, which includes a physician, nurses, a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker.

The team will carry out physical exams, immunizations, cancer screenings and management of chronic diseases, as well as mental health care and medication management for people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The mobile clinic's service stops will include Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos (CSA) and the Sunnyvale cold weather shelter.

"This is a big new project for us," said Barbara Avery, the health care district's community benefits director. "What this is going to be is a very high-level van going around integrating primary care with mental health services."

Other grants for services-on-wheels include $149,000 to Health Mobile, a dental clinic for low-income families in Mountain View and Sunnyvale that performs everything from cleanings to root canals.

Lucile Packard Foundation's Mobile Adolescent Health Services program, better known as TeenVan, also received $92,000 to provide mental health counseling and medical exams at Los Altos and Alta Vista high schools, primarily for homeless and low-income kids.

Both TeenVan and Health Mobile launched programs in Mountain View as new grant recipients last year.

An addition to this year's Community Benefit Program is Meals on Wheels, which provides daily visits and meals to low-income homebound seniors. The $100,000 in grant funding over the next year is expected to provide 100 people with 13,200 meals.

Case workers at CSA and regional homeless advocacy groups say that poverty and "food insecurity" is on the rise among seniors in the Bay Area, particularly those on fixed incomes, making it difficult to meet their daily needs for food, social support and health care.

Avery said Meals on Wheels will also provide essential wellness checkups for residents ages 60 and over who may be socially isolated, and that the 20-minute daily visit also doubles as an important social interaction with health and social service professionals.

"They do a wellness check at every visit. They don't just leave food on the doorstep," she said.

A growing problem

The boost in mobile health services comes at a time when homelessness in the North County has gone from bad to worse. The 2017 Santa Clara County homeless census, which was conducted earlier this year, found that Mountain View's homeless population spiked from 276 in 2015 to 416 this year -- a 51 percent increase in two years, and a 300 percent increase since 2013.

Job loss, eviction and alcohol or drug use are among the leading causes of homelessness in the county, and 62 percent of homeless residents surveyed in the census said the high cost of rent prevents them from securing permanent housing again, according to data collected by the firm Applied Survey Research.

People who are homeless suffer from severe health conditions at a much higher rate, and are less likely to have access to health care. The countywide survey found that 38 percent of homeless residents suffer from a mental health condition, 27 percent have chronic health problems, and 22 percent have post-traumatic stress disorder.

On average, homeless people suffer a higher rate of preventable illness, are hospitalized four more days than the average hospital patient, and experience a 25-year reduction in life expectancy, according to the survey report.

El Camino Healthcare District's $7 million in grant funding is largely guided by the district's Community Health Needs Assessment, a lengthy regional survey that determines what health needs in the area are not met.

The high cost of living and stubborn poverty rate in Santa Clara County were chief among the top health concerns during the 2016 needs assessment, putting housing and economic security in the same league as mental health, cancer and cardiovascular health initiatives.

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5 people like this
Posted by Bring to Palo Alto too
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Lots of people living RVs along el camino in Palo Alto. They shouldn't have to come to Mountain View for help.

5 people like this
Posted by fcservices
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm

At Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley (now a division of Caminar), we're thrilled to read about this much needed resource, which will benefit many people we serve through our counseling, substance use, and domestic violence survivor services in north county.

7 people like this
Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 14, 2017 at 11:11 pm

It's a good start and makes me proud of our city. Glad to live in a community that values compassion as a public venue dynamic. I think publically funded compassion is an important gage as to a city's civility and decency. Too bad our federal govt "leaders" want to abandon all efforts based in this priority.

5 people like this
Posted by Neighbors Helping Neighbors
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2017 at 9:29 am

RE: Healthcare & ther Services for people in need (Sunnyvale. MV & Palo Alto)

There is health, dental and other services available to both low, moderate and middle income housed at risk and unhoused adults & children.

Low & Moderate Incomes:

Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance for qualifying families and individuals, by appointment.
Bredt Family Center for women, children, and families provides basic services, education, support, and children’s activities. Open Monday-Friday, 9:00am-6:00pm.
Adult Services Center for single men & women provides basic services, case management, and assistance with CA ID/DLs. Open Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:00pm.
Clothes Closet distributes free clothing, sleeping bags, backpacks, shoes, winter gear, and toiletries.
Open Wednesdays 11:00-am-1:00pm.
In partnership with the Peninsula HealthCare Connection (PHC), a free on-site clinic provides
confidential, compassionate health care by appointment. Call 650-853-0321. Open Mon – Fri, 9 am – 4 pm. PHC clinic offers:
Internal Medicine
Family Practice & Pediatric Care
Mental Health Care
SSI/Disability Application
Case Management
Supportive Health Service
For more information, visit

Middle & Lower Upper Incomes:
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Peer Counseling Team

3 people like this
Posted by Neighbors Helping Neighbors
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2017 at 9:32 am


RE: Healthcare & ther Services for people in need (Sunnyvale. MV & Palo Alto)

There is health, dental and other services available to both low, moderate and middle income housed at risk and unhoused adults & children.

Middle & Lower Upper Incomes:
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Peer Counseling Team

3 people like this
Posted by Neighbors Helping Neighbors
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2017 at 9:36 am

Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Peer Counseling Team

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