Spotlight on Downtown Oakland

By Elaine Herscher, Senior Communications Editor

History:

DOC was created to be the home base for LifeLong’s Supportive Housing Program (SHP) and to serve the immediate community in inner-city Oakland. The clinic was launched in 2003 as a satellite office for SHP providers and five years later started offering walk-in services.

Today the clinic serves several SROs that are within blocks of the site. Says Dr. Susan Ferguson, SHP’s Associate Medical Director: “DOC includes a team of medical providers who go out and provide in-home medical care to folks living in SROs and other sites including board and care homes for people with mental illness, shelters, and in substance abuse recovery programs, including EBCRP (East Bay Community Recovery Program).”

Leadership:

Associate Medical Director Rebecca Hu, PA, and Center Director Christina Urias

Catch phrase:

“We are little but mighty”

Special Characteristics:

With just 700 patients, DOC is one of LifeLong’s smallest health centers, but according to Center Director Christine Urias, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in impact.

DOC’s Transitions Clinic, which offers help to recently released prisoners, is so far the only program of its kind at LifeLong. The program receives referrals from prisons, jails, and parole offices for patients who have needs ranging from primary medical care, substance use treatment, counseling, and connections to other resources.

“It’s an all-encompassing support for these folks,” Christina says. “Learning how to navigate these very convoluted systems can be difficult. And so, their first point of contact with us is Kimberly.”

Christina is referring to Kimberly McBride, Transitions Clinic Case Manager, who’s been on the job for a mere three months but already has a caseload of 30 to 40 patients. The assistance former inmates receive goes way beyond healthcare.

“We help with housing and food. I check on their social status. Are they adjusting to society? Do they have support?” Kimberley says. “I help them with information about their parole, library services, other medical services that we may not be able to cover that they may need. We can deal with fathers trying to reunite with their children. We work with Bay Area Legal Aid to help with Social Security and other issues. So, it’s a big program.”

Kimberly is uniquely prepared to anticipate what these patients need because she herself served time in prison. “What most ex-incarcerated need to know is that you can meet them at any level they come at, and that you’re not afraid. But you’re not going to disrespect them either,” she says.

LifeLong’s is one of the re-entry clinics affiliated with the Transitions Clinic Network (TCN), a San Francisco-based organization dedicated to supporting people leaving incarceration. LifeLong’s program is run by Recovery Support and Re-Entry Program Manager Gale Sandoval. Erica Bass, MD, and Shevaun

Lewallan, FNP, are the Transition Clinic’s providers, along with Medical Assistants Roneshia Ario and Araceli Cuatlatl and volunteer Maryann Osullivan.

Kimberly tries to stay in contact with patients even after their healthcare needs are met.

“These people see that we’re not just focused on somebody once or twice and then when they leave us, we’re just done with them,” she says. “I need to make sure they’re getting what they need so they don’t fail.”

Pictured left to right: Transitions Clinic Case Manager Kimberly McBride and Center Director Christine Urias.