VisionSF Spotlight: HealthRIGHT 360
By Eleni Gastis, San Francisco Chronicle, February 16, 2017
Now, more than ever, HealthRight360 CEO Vitka Eisen is prepared to fight for the communities she serves. Anticipating the opening of a new five-story, 50,000 square-foot facility on Mission Street this fall, there is a lot for the leadership and clients of HealthRight360 to be excited about. There is also an ample amount of worry.
The excitement comes from the new integrated care facility at 1563 Mission St., which will become a one-stop shop for low-income Bay Area residents in need of healthcare – medical care, dental care and pharmacy services – as well as access to social services that can help with anything from clothing to housing. Nothing like it exists in California, and Eisen hopes that this kind of care will become the new norm.
The worry Eisen has comes from how low-income and marginalized clients of the organization might be affected by upcoming changes in Washington D.C.
"We serve low income people who have healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, and we worry that they will be the first target if there is a repeal of the Afford Care Act. Their voices are not heard the same way. Our clients are coming out of prisons, they are undocumented, from the LGBTQ community," Eisen said, adding that many of HealthRight360's clients are also housing insecure.
In fact, Eisen notes, before the Affordable Care Act passed in 2014, only 10 percent of HealthRight360 clients were able to provide a "pay source" for services. After 2014, 80 percent of clients had a pay source through the healthcare exchange or insurance. Until this radical change, patients weren't the only ones struggling to make ends meet -- many local organizations served the community with limited resources and little to no revenue, Eisen said.
"The Affordable Care Act totally, radically changed care for people we serve."
Since last year – when Eisen was nominated for the VisionSF award – HealthRight360 has been able to expand their services in more ways than one. Now serving 38,000 people a year – up almost 10,000 from last year -- and managing $20 million in revenue, the organization has undergone seven mergers in seven years. Most recently, HealthRight360 has merged with Prototypes, a Southern California-based nonprofit which aims to assist women and families impacted by substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence.
HealthRight360 has also expanded their substance abuse disorder programs in four California State Prisons in Folsom, Tracy, Stockton and Ione – as well as expanded services to Los Angeles County Jail.
"Our primary vision is to provide integrated care – all the services people need who have not been well served in other settings – those who have been cast aside or relegated to margin. We want to help as many people as we can, and growing partnerships is best way to reach them," Eisen said, adding that she hopes to continue working with other organizations throughout the state.
Eisen still spends much of her time meeting with teams, in meetings, advocating, strategizing and, as she says, "preparing for many possible scenarios". The work continues to be rewarding, however, because of experiences like the one she had at a recent staff party, where she met a woman who came up to her for a chat. The woman explained that she was once in a HealthRight360 state prison program, but later attained a bachelor's and master's degree. Eventually, she came back to work for the organization that changed her own life.
"She said, 'I want to say HealthRight360 gave me space and support to make that journey'. I've heard that more than once. That's the work we do -- if you invest care, support and services people do get better – and then they help other people," Eisen said.
"The work is generational. That's the ripple effect of providing services."
The next steps for Eisen and HealthCare360 won't be easy, but she is prepared and passionate about the work she does. Up next: housing.
"Now is the time to fight fiercely to protect our clients and the communities we serve. One of biggest challenges has been housing. We want to increase access to current safe housing. Many people in our community leave us not housed. In the meantime, we are going to keep expanding care. We are going to keep fighting."
The Chronicle's VisionSF program and its 3rd annual Visionary of the Year award:
Mission statement: "Visionary leaders are paradigm changers — individuals who strive to make the world a better place by employing new, innovative business models and practices. As the world faces an increasing number of widespread social and economic challenges, visionary leaders understand the broad impact of the business community and recognize its potential to drive great change."
How nominees are selected: A group of prominent Bay Area leaders is selected by The Chronicle to identify visionaries who are making a difference in their respective fields. Click here to meet the nominating committee. Each of the nominees will be profiled in a series of stories, in the newspaper and on SFChronicle.com, beginning January 15th, 2017.
How winner is decided: Chronicle Publisher Jeff Johnson, Editor in Chief Audrey Cooper and Editorial Page Editor John Diaz will select the winner from six finalists. The winner, who will receive a $25,000 grant, will be announced on March 30th, 2017.
Past winners: Evan Marwell of Education Superhighway (2015) and Chase Adam of Watsi (2016).
Founding partner:The St. Mary's College School of Economics and Business Administration. For more information visit Saint Mary's College at stmarys-ca.edu
Presenting sponsor: City National Bank visit the company's website at cnb.com
For more on VisionSF visit SFChronicle.com/VisionSF