Holiday Spirit

Dr. Haleh Sheikholeslami, medical director of Peninsula Healthcare Connection, checks on Darlene Berryessa, a resident of the Opportunity Center at the transitional housing's health care clinic on Dec. 8, 2017. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Posted December 15, 2017

Saving the homeless
Peninsula Healthcare Connection brings medical services to homeless and anyone in need

By Sue Dremann

Darlene Berryessa was just 40 years old when her vision began to blur. She had no idea she had high blood pressure, but she was having a stroke.

Berryessa, now 54, also had diabetes, but she didn't know that either at the time. She hadn't seen a doctor because she could not afford one.

"I didn't have insurance," said Berryessa, an affable woman with long blond hair cascading below her shoulders.

But under the care of doctors at Peninsula Healthcare Connection, a free medical service in Palo Alto that serves people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness, she is now thriving.

"My health is so much better. I don't know where I would be without them," she said.

Peninsula Healthcare Connection is the only state-licensed medical clinic in the immediate area serving homeless and at-risk people. The lion's share of such services are in San Jose, said Heather Boddie-Russo, clinical director of New Directions, Peninsula Healthcare Connection's case management program for individuals with complex medical issues and needs of psychological and social concern.

Sadaf Nagshbandi, medical assistant at Peninsula Healthcare Connection, gives Carla Perez a flu shot at the medical clinic at the Opportunity Center on Dec. 8, 2017.
"We're so grateful for having the clinic around. It really is the only spot up here," she said.

The clinic provides primary, preventative and mental health care regardless of a client's ability to pay.

In 2016, the clinic served clients through 1,218 primary care appointments and 532 psychiatry appointments. Ninety percent of patients are ages 19 to 64; 6 percent are 65 and older and 4 percent are 18 and under, Boddie-Russo said. The clinic has four volunteer primary-care physicians from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and a part-time paid psychiatrist. About two months ago, it added a volunteer cardiologist, she said.

Peninsula Healthcare Connection received a $5,000 Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund grant last year for its medical supplies and laboratory-testing costs. The clinic has an annual budget of roughly $1.4 million for its comprehensive services, which include assessments, medical examinations and treatment, psychiatric services and case management.

Medical supplies, laboratory testing and vaccinations took up $34,000 of the annual budget. The Holiday Fund grant helped pay for diabetes test strips, tuberculosis-screening materials, immunizations and laboratory fees, which help to identify and treat these and other life-threatening diseases.

"The lab fees and immunizations are very expensive," Boddie-Russo said, noting that vaccines can cost up to $100 apiece. Lab fees last year were estimated to cost $21,500, according to the organization.

"The ability of Peninsula Healthcare Connection to purchase medical supplies and immunizations is dependent on this kind of funding," Boddie-Russo said. The clinic administered 270 immunizations last year, she added.

The lab tests are crucial to detecting serious underlying conditions such as those Berryessa has experienced.

Boddie-Russo said the clinic also supplies immunizations, including for pneumonia, flu, shingles, Hepatitis A and B and tuberculosis. TB testing is available to anyone, even if the person isn't a regular patient.

"Tuberculosis tests are really key, as in October when the county winter shelter opens, you must have it to get in. TB is a concern. We come across a lot of folks who have it, even if it is not active," she said. Berryessa said giving homeless people access to flu shots at the clinic has probably saved many lives. Her own mother died from the H1N1 influenza.

Homeless persons often have complex medical and psychological conditions, including chronic disease, addictions to multiple substances and mental health conditions. The clinic also helps clients identify and manage chronic diseases such as heart conditions, diabetes, hypertension and foot problems, which are common among homeless people, she said.

Having a psychiatrist on site helps to identify patients in need of mental health care. The psychiatrist also does emergency psychiatric evaluations, known as 5150s, and directs a patient to a nearby hospital if needed, she said.

Berryessa, who now works cleaning the clinic, said the clinic's mental health evaluation and treatment is a lifeline for many people.

"The psychiatrist here, he's the only hookup we've got to mental health services. He's helped to get a lot of us leveled out," she said.

Peninsula Healthcare Connection has made it possible to receive care at top medical facilities when necessary, Berryessa said.

"Because the doctors are affiliated with the hospitals, they are able to send a referral to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and Stanford Hospital and to specialists for things like endocrinology and neurology. The student volunteers from Stanford Medical School also do rotations," Berryessa said.

She, her husband and her daughter now have housing through the Opportunity Center. The medical care she's received just downstairs has helped save her life.

"Everything has been perfect. They're amazing. This place has helped so many people," she said.

Boddie-Russo said the clinic's services may become increasingly important. As the housing crisis gets worse, county officials expect more people will be living in their cars or on the street, and they won't be able to afford health care. The crisis could also deepen if the U.S. Congress dismantles the Affordable Healthcare Act, she said.

"If ACA does go away, we are more important than ever because we will never turn anyone away," she said.

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2019 Grant Recipients

49ers Academy
Academic and social support services for East Palo Alto students attending Menlo-Atherton High School$5,000

Able Works
Financial literacy education for high school students at East Palo Alto Academy, Oxford Day Academy and Menlo-Atherton High School$5,000

Ada's Café
Training and support of developmentally disabled employees and high school student interns$5,000

Adolescent Counseling Services
Outlet Program providing support services and counseling for LGBTQ+ youth$7,500

Aim High for High School
Summer academic program for East Palo Alto middle school students aimed at preparing them for a successful high school experience$5,000

All Students Matter
Expansion of literacy intervention program focused on 3rd-5th grade students in Ravenswood school district$15,000

Art in Action
Art education program serving more than 650 students in grades K-8 at three schools in the Ravenswood school district$5,000

Art of Yoga
Yoga, creative art and other mindfulness activities for more than 500 juvenile girls in the criminal justice system$5,000

Bayshore Christian Ministries
Academic "Create" summer camp providing STEAM-focused classes and activities for Ravenswood district middle school students$5,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters
Support for Match Support Specialists who oversee and coach the adult volunteers matched with children$5,000

Buena Vista Homework Club
Homework center for elementary and middle school aged youth living at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park$10,000

CASSY
School-based free mental health services to students and families in five Ravenswood elementary and middle schools$10,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
Legal assistance to East Palo Alto residents facing eviction and other rental housing problems and conflicts$10,000

Downtown Streets Team
Funding for a Case Management Flex Fund to help team members pay for fees and other expenses that are necessary to pursue housing, employment and other opportunities$7,500

DreamCatchers
General support for after-school tutoring program serving low-income Palo Alto middle school students$20,000

East Palo Alto Academy Foundation
Peer leadership program to develop mentors and motivate high school students to participate in STEM-focused "Dream Lab"$7,500

East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS)
Science program at K-5 elementary charter school$7,500

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation
Educator Micro Grants Program, providing $600 grants to Ravenswood school district teachers for classroom supplies and field trips$10,000

East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring
Development of math tutoring curriculum for underperforming 1st to 8th graders$10,000

Environmental Volunteers
Monthly public environmental education programs for youth and adults$5,000

Family Connections
Early childhood education program supporting parents of preschoolers through 3rd grade in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park.$5,000

Fit Kids Foundation
Physical activity program for children 4-13 in East Palo Alto$5,000

Foundation for a College Education
College Knowledge middle and high school program designed to prepare students and their families to pursue a college education$7,500

Friends of Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo
Science Outreach Program providing hands on science instruction in Ravenswood school district$5,000

Get Involved Palo Alto
Service-learning internship placement program for high school students wanting to work with low-income youth$5,000

Hidden Villa
Summer camp scholarships$5,000

Jasper Ridge Farm
Farm animal visits to Ronald McDonald House$5,000

Kara
Spanish language grief support program$7,500

KIPP Valiant Community Prep
Mental health counseling services at public charter school in East Palo Alto$3,000

La Comida
Support for newly opened downtown senior lunch program$7,500

Live in Peace
"Gap Year Project" to guide and support at-risk high school graduates unprepared or uncertain about careers or college$7,500

Marine Science Institute
Underwriting of environmental and marine science education program for K-12 low-income students$5,000

Music in the Schools Foundation
Music education in Ravenswood school district$5,000

New Creation Home Ministries
Parenting and life skills classes for teen mothers in East Palo Alto$5,000

New Voices for Youth
Video production equipment and training for middle school students at the Boys and Girls Club in East Palo Alto$3,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation
Cultural Kaleidoscope, an arts-education program pairing Palo Alto and East Palo Alto students and using professional artists$5,000

Palo Alto Housing
Workshops for high school students and parents residing in subsidized housing on college and career options and financial planning$5,000

Palo Alto Music Connection
Volunteer student-run group providing free music lessons to Ravenswood middle school students$5,000

Peninsula HealthCare Connection
Mobile "Backpack Medicine" program to reach area homeless who need but do not seek out medical care$7,500

Peninsula Volunteers
Meals on Wheels program serving 13,000 meals to low-income clients in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park$5,000

Project WeHOPE
Classes and counseling to support the homeless in East Palo Alto$15,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation
Purchase of school uniforms and other clothing for homeless and low-income students in Ravenswood school district$7,500

Rebuilding Together Peninsula
Safe at Home home repair program serving low-income home owners in East Palo Alto$5,000

Silicon Valley Urban Debate League
After school debate program at East Palo Alto Academy, Oxford Day Academy and College Track and Summer Debate Institute$5,000

St. Elizabeth Seton School
New and updated science text books for K-5 classrooms$10,000

St. Francis of Assisi Youth Club
After school literacy and enrichment program for 3rd through 5th graders in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park$5,000

TheatreWorks
TheatreWorks for Schools arts education program for grades K-12$5,000

YMCA East Palo Alto
Summer "Full STEAM Ahead" program for high school students, combining academic curriculum with recreational outings$10,000

YMCA Ross Road
Five-week summer enrichment camp for low-income elementary school students who are required to attend PAUSD summer school$5,000

Youth Community Service
Support of Summer of Service day camp scholarships, service clubs at local middle and high schools, service days and life skills programs for at-risk teens$20,000

Youth Speaks Out
Expressive arts program enabling marginalized teens whose voices may not be otherwise heard to collaborate on artistic projects with each other and supportive adults.$12,000

Child Care Facility Improvement Grants

Friends of Preschool Family
Playground improvements, including outdoor musical instruments and raised planting bed$5,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool
Raised planter boxes and new irrigation system in play yard$5,000

The Learning Center
Continued construction of outdoor classroom, including water table, raised beds and outdoor musical instruments$5,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care
Outdoor garden learning classroom at Thacher Children's Center$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School
Outdoor teacher work station$5,000

Parents Nursery School
Maintenance of outdoor play structures, including replacement of old tires with building blocks$5,000

As of Jan 8, 2019,
370 donors have contributed $401,365.
* indicates amount withheld

28 Anonymous121,525
David Labaree300
Bruce Campbell200
Janis Ulevich100
Mike Gordon250
Bill Reller*
Ellen & Mike Turbow200
Xiaofan Lin50
M D Savioe*
Ron Wolf200
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Tom Goodrich100
Leif & Sharon Erickson250
Stephen Levy 500
John & Meg Monroe500
Daniel Cox200
Richard Zuanich200
Kieschnick Family*
Deborah Williams500
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Havern Family5,000
Bill Johnson & Terri Lobdell1,000
Mike & Jean Couch250
Tony & Judy Kramer*
Peter Stern*
Dorothy Saxe100
David & Nancy Kalkbrenner100
David & Lynn Mitchell450
Barbara Riper*
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Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Ted & Ginny Chu*
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Drew McCalley & Marilyn Green100
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
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Carolyn Brennan*
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Pat Burt250
Larry Baer500
Arthur Keller*
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Pamela Mayerfeld100
Eileen Brooks500
Scott & Jan Kilner500
Andrea Smith100
Braff Family500
Eugene & Mabel Dong200
Debby Roth200
Phil Hanawalt & Garciela Spivak1,000
Lani Freeman & Stephen Monismith100
Tom & Ellen Ehrlich350
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Gwen Luce*
Robert Aulger*
Pat & John Davis50
Art & Peggy Stauffer500
Kroymann Family250
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Karen & Steve Ross*
Wileta Burch*
Mandy Lowell*
George & Betsy Young*
Tom & Pat Sanders*
Gerald & Joyce Barker200
Brigid Barton & Rob Robinson400
Jim & Alma Phillips500
Peggy & Boyce Nute*
Michael & Cathie Foster500
Diane Moore*
Linda & Steve Boxer*
Chuck & Jean Thompson100
Julie Jerome500
Bonnie Berg*
Gallo Family500
Ann & Don Rothblatt500
Caryn Huberman Yacowitz*
Shirley R. Ely1,000
Luca & Mary Cafiero*
Steve & Diane Ciesinski500
Jennifer DiBrienza & Jesse Dorogusker500
James W. & Nancy E. Baer200
The Ely Family250
Page & Ferrell Sanders100
JoAnne N. Zschokke100
Ralph R. Wheeler300
Bert Fingerhut & Caroline Hicks250
Kaaren & John Antoun1,500
Richard Johnsson7,000
Bruce Gee & Jane Gee250
Eric Hahn & Elaine Hahn1,000
Bob & Dee Crawford*
Diane & Bob Simoni200
Jan Thomson & Roy Levin*
Donald & Adele Langendorf200
Irvin & Marilyn Yalom100
Brigid Barton500
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
John & Florine Galen*
H. Anton & Carolyn Tucher250
Phil Fernandez & Daniel Sternbergh*
Bob & Micki Cardelli*
John Pavkovich500
Eileen Stolee100
Sallie Whaley*
Ann Burrell & Allen Smith*
Patti Yanklowitz150
Linda Selden*
Dena Hill500
Michael Patrick200
Bonnie Packer100
Romola Georgia*
Martha Shirk500
Christina Kenrick1,000
Dawes Family250
Ken Bencala & Sally O'Neil200
Nina & Norman Kulgein*
Tom & Nancy Fiene*
Lee Zulman*
Merrill & Lee Newman250
Judy & Lee Shulman200
Donna & Jerry Silverberg100
Victor Befera100
Kay & Don Remsen*
Beth & Peter Rosenthal300
Robyn H. Crumly*
Charles & Barbara Stevens*
Amado Padilla & Deborah Farrington500
Jerry & Linda Elkind500
Donald & Virginia Fitton25
Don & Bonnie Miller100
Roger V. Smith300
Edie Kirkwood*
Cynthia Costell100
Anna & Chris Saccheri1,000
Eric Keller & Janice Bohman250
Diana Diamond150
A Carlisle Scott*
Peter Beller & Nadine Dabby*
Carol Kersten300
Linda Groffie-Balint150
Michal Sadoff100
Ellen Krasnow*
Meri Gruber & James Taylor250
Tony & Kathleen Hughes1,500
Erika Buck100
Carolyn Williams200
Jocelyn Dong*
Spreng Family200
Susan D. Osofsky200
Leo & Marlys Keoshian100
John & Lee Pierce250
Susie Richardson & Hal Luft*
Don & Dee Price*
Anne & Don Vermeil*
John & Mary Schaefer100
Judy Ousterhout*
Ellen Lillington300
B & D Fryberger100
Stewart & Carol Hansen100
Gwen Barry*
Richard & Tish Fagin100
Margo Sensenbrenner*
Al & Joanne Russell300
Harry & Susan Hartzell100
Frances Codispoti500
Hal & Carol Louchheim400
Herbert Fischgrund200
Diane & Brandy Sikic*
Karen Backer500
Rosalie Shepherd100
David Thom200
Sylvia McGovern100
Lawrence Dong50
Annette Isaacson100
Pamela Wong25
Barbara Kinsey500
Thomas Rindfleisch*
Elgin & Elizabeth Lee500
Weil Family1,000
Epstein Family500
Kenyon Family500
Ellmann Family100
Helene Pier*
David & Virginia Pollard150
Diane Finkelstein200
Elizabeth Shepard*
Nancy Moss*
Rita Vrhel300
Virginia Laibl500
Barbara Klein & Stan Schrier*
Paul Kingston Duffie50
Carol Hubenthal50
Steve & Virginia Morgan50
Barbara Noparstak & Duane Bay100
Judith & Hans Steiner150
Marc & Margaret Cohen250
Dennis & Cindy Dillon*
Carol Gilbert*
Jane Holland*
Mike & Lennie Roberts200
Hoda Epstein*
Larry Breed200
Colleen Anderson250
Elizabeth Bechtel100
Peter Giles125
Georgie Gleim500
Jeremy Platt & Sondra Murphy*
Jean Doble*
George Chippendale50
Robert Stevens200
Richard Mazze100
Sandy Liu100
Charles Katz400
Richard N Ellson100
Kathryn & A.C. Johnston100
Claire Lauing250
Alice Evarts500
Carol O'Neill25
Reed Content200
Nancy Peterson100
Joanne Koltnow100
Susan Elgee & Steve Eglash500
Liz Kok*
Werner Graf*
Vincent Steckler500
Norm & Nancy Rossen*
Debra Satz & Don Barr*
John & Lynn Wiese150
Lawrence Yang & Jennifer Kuan1,000
Delle Maxwelll2,500
Steve & Gayle Brugler1,000
Andy & Eva Dobrov150
Kate & Marvin Feinstein200
Scott Pearson500
Marilyn, Dale, Rick & Mei Simbeck*
Bruce & Mary Beth Train250
Sherry Brown250
Charlie Williams125
Jonathan Macquitty & Laurie Hunter1,000
Gavin & Patricia Christensen*
Ralph Britton200
Barbara Allen100
Veronica Tincher*
Kay Sabin*
Leannah Hunt250
Marilee & Sam Anderson100
Chen & Lee Family300
Teresa Roberts1,000
Mr. & Mrs. John J. McLaughlin100
Ellen King200
Patricia Levin100
Joan Norton*
Susan Bartalo & David Fischer150
In Memory Of

Er-Ying & Yen-Chen Yen250
Janet Hermsen200
Ray Bacchetti250
Nancy & Bob Lobdell*
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
Tracy & Alan Herrick100
Bob Fenster*
David, Zoe & Ken100
Mrs. Nancy Yih*
Thomas W. & Louise L. Phinney*
Leo & Sylvia Breidenbach*
Corrine Aulgur*
Duncan Matteson250
Pam Grady300
Elliot Eisner*
Nate Rosenberg200
Francine Mendlin250
Bob Donald*
Bill Land*
Emmett Lorey*
Ted Linden200
Marie & Don Snow150
Ben Barres100
Kathleen Morris*
Our Loving Parents Albert & Beverly Pellizzari*
August L. King*
Julia Schwartz*
Lee Domenik*
Marts Beekley, M.D.*
Margaret McAvity - "Granny"*
Carol Berkowitz*
Don Kenyon100
Judge Bart Phelps*
Ernest J. Moore200
Jacques, Nancy, Wanda & Jimmy George*
Sally Landy & Betty Meltzer50
Mary Floyd & Susan Thomas50
Jack Sutorius300
Jim & Dottie Mellberg200
Robert Spinrad*
Boyd Paulson Jr.*
Edward & Elizabeth Buurma*
Samuel Benjamin Kurland300
David Mitchell200
Gary A Fry250
Lindsey Draper100
Abe & Helen Klein50
Dave Mitchell100
Bob Markevitch*
Tinney Family250
Marshall Carrick*
In Honor Of

Melissa Baten Caswell*
Lucy Berman's clients2,500
Jill200
Scott200
Polly200
Hayley200
Jake200
Garrett200
Gil200
Joe Simitian*
Marilyn Sutorius300
Physicians, Kaiser RWC*
Shapiro Family500
As a Gift For

Logan Marsh & Gabby Perez1,000
Businesses/Organizations

Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run & Walk69,110
Sponsors of Moonlight Run
    Stanford Hospital & Clinics10,000
    Wilson Rosati Goodrich & Rosati Foundation5,000
    Palo Alto Medical Foundation5,000
    Stanford Federal Credit Union5,000
    Palantir5,000
    DeLeon Realty5,000
    Wealth Architects5,000
    Facebook5,000
    Kaiser Permanente5,000
    Lakin Spears2,000
    Bank of the West1,000
Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,000
Bleibler Properties1,000
Communications & Power Industries500
deLemos Properties200
Palo Alto Business Park*
Peery Foundation10,000
Arrillaga Foundation10,000