After a five-year journey from purchase to completion, HealthRIGHT 360’s new five-story integrated care center, offering addiction rehabilitation, dental, physical and psychiatric care, has opened its doors at 1563 Mission St.
Through the Asian American Recovery Services, Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, Lyon-Martin Health Service, Tenderloin Health Services and Walden House, HealthRIGHT 360 has fostered a family of programs that provide thousands of patients yearly with holistic and dignified care. And although HealthRIGHT accepts Medi-Cal and Medicare, no one is turned away for lack of insurance, ability to pay or legal status and walk in’s are welcomed.
“When someone walks into our door, we take care of the whole person,” said CEO Vitka Eisen, emphasizing that the organization provides access to services regardless of legal status. “We have Spanish language capacity at this facility along with other threshold languages.”
The newly retrofitted, 50,000 square-foot, eco-friendly facility, which has an onsite pharmacy, was funded by a combination of private contributions, New Market Tax Credit Allocation, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and an ongoing $15 million capital campaign.
The services offered by the clinic—previously located at the corner of Mission and Duboce streets—have helped patients like Ray Flemings. At age 50, Flemings had an addiction and had become homeless. At Walden House, he was connected to health services that surpassed his expectations.
“I thought I only had a bad hip, turns out I had a bad hip, a fracture in my spine and stage-three cancer,” he said. At Walden House, Flemings was able to treat his addiction, benefit from access to health care and graduate from drug court.
“I haven’t missed an appointment since I’ve been here,” said Flemings. “I have a therapist, housing and I have family now. I have friends.”
But catering to the community as a full service center also means providing housing, computer and employment services.
David Barnes was connected with HealthRIGHT 360 services six months ago, after serving 26 years in prison.
“Although drugs and alcohol were not at the center of my dysfunction, it was a part of my dysfunction,” Barnes said. “At Walden House, I benefitted immensely from counseling, and living in a transitional home helped to getting me acclimated to more freedom.”
Shannon Robertson, originally from Sacramento, moved to San Francisco for rehabilitation.
“360 offered a more ‘dual diagnosis’ [oriented treatment], something not addressed in rehabilitation centers in Sacramento,” she said. “Coping with a former drug addiction and bipolar disorder, I can now function a lot better than ever before.”
The now retired honorable Ellen Chaitin became acquainted with the organization after serving as a judge for the San Francisco Superior Court for 20 years, and she continues to be engaged with HealthRIGHT 360, serving as the vice chair of the foundation board. But during the last part of her 20-year career, she was assigned to dependency court and saw the state intervene in cases where children were abused or neglected.
“The goal is to return the children back to their parents if the parents can improve,” Chaitin said, noting that newborns of addicted mothers were born addicted. “Having a baby, it’s a very vulnerable and pivotal point for these women. We were always looking for residential programs where we could send the mothers and then the mothers, if they did well, could have the children come live with them. And there are very few and far in between, but HealthRIGHT 360 had them. When moms completed the program, and I could say, ‘The jurisdiction of the court is terminated,’ those are beautiful words.”
According to Eisen, “80 percent of patients that seek assistance lack safe and stable housing, 95 percent seeking substance use disorder treatment lack safe and stable housing with 67 percent of that population live outside and are unsheltered.”
Although HealthRIGHT 360 caters primarily to adult treatment, it also provides family care.
Stephanie Grant was living in a tent encampment on Shotwell Street when she was connected to the Homeless Prenatal Program. When she gave birth to her son, he was taken by Child Protective Services and she was told he would be given up for adoption if she didn’t sign up for a residential rehabilitation center. That’s when Homeless Prenatal Program connected her to HealthRIGHT 360. Since recovering, Stephanie has full custody of her son, has a job, qualifies for public housing and is an aspiring addiction counselor.
“It’s focused on adults and the children of the people we serve,” said Eisen. “We do offer family services for our clients. The vision at some point I think is to offer pediatric care. That will need a lot of community support and donor support for that to happen.”
Story by: Gabriela Alemán