01 Nov Ueberroth Family Foundation Sees Health and Education Converge at SOS-El Sol Wellness Center
When is trust a prescription for good health? When it comes to serving the families of El Sol Science and Arts Academy in Santa Ana, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in May. Not only is the award-winning charter school’s English and Spanish dual-immersion model credited with enabling its nearly 1,000 preschool-through-eighth-grade students achieve high levels of academic success, the new SOS-El Sol Wellness Center also is providing El Sol families a wide range of on-site health, education and social services. “It’s really about serving the whole community,” says Vicki Booth, a member of OCCF’s board of governors and president of Ueberroth Family Foundation.
Through her family’s foundation and other community works, Booth has seen El Sol go from a concept to a culture defined by rigorous academic achievement. And she’s supported efforts to transition the SOS-El Sol Wellness Center from being a part-time modular clinic on campus to a permanent 4,000 square-foot community health clinic located in the El Sol neighborhood.
Booth said, “To me, one of the beauties of the El Sol education is that they include families, which has created a lot of trust among parents, teachers and administrators. And because they already have trusting relationships, the health care piece is additive to their experience, not something scary.”
In fall 2010, SOS collaborated with the charter school to open the SOS–El Sol Wellness Center. Although the health care nonprofit served more than 3,100 students, families and residents by 2014, obstacles still existed. The clinic was open only three days a week, it was not a permanent fixture in the community, and its presence on campus created the misperception that services were available only for students and their families.
“Thanks to support from donors like the Ueberroth Family Foundation, we were able to shatter these barriers by opening a full-time, permanent clinic on the perimeter of the El Sol campus last November,” said Karen McGlinn, SOS chief executive officer. “We treat patients in all stages of life, from pediatrics to geriatrics. We want our neighbors to think of the SOS-El Sol Wellness Center as their health care home.”
There, patients will find comprehensive primary care services. SOS offers the predominantly low-income, Latino community access to children’s services, women’s health, men’s health, behavioral health, pharmacy services and health care enrollment services. Same-day appointments are available for El Sol Science and Arts Academy students and residents.
“By providing important services on-site, we’ve been able to strengthen the health and well-being of El Sol children and families,” explained El Sol Executive Director Monique Daviss. “And we’re envisioning an even brighter future for the El Sol community as families embrace the educational and health care opportunities available to them.”
SOS’ expansion points to community efforts to create health care equality among all Orange County residents, regardless of their residency, income or awareness of health issues. Patients can use their insurance plans, or if they lack insurance, they can utilize a sliding fee scale determined by their ability to pay. SOS also is offering patients assistance for health insurance enrollment mandates by counseling them about options and helping them sign up.
“The impact that the SOS-El Sol Wellness Center is having on families is compelling,” Booth concludes. “There are so many residents in the neighborhood – many who are parents of students at El Sol – who are seeking health care for the very first time because they have trust in the school community. We believe one of the reasons for the success of this school and health cooperative is the great leadership. Karen and Monique have the heart to bring this community together.”