How You Can Help - Pandemic Relief Fund

Dear Friends,
The COVID-19 landscape is changing quickly and in the past week, we observed some encouraging signs on the horizon. Diligence with social distancing appears to be paying off. Santa Barbara’s reopening plan was approved by the State of California which means our community can begin moving further into Stage 2 of the reopening process. While some low-risk workplaces are making plans to do business again, the stay-at-home order remains in place and it is important that we continue to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has pointed out how important mask wearing is in reducing transmission of COVID-19 by issuing this ordinance that goes into effect at 5:00 pm today, requiring that face masks be worn when inside of or in line to enter any and all businesses, as well as when using public transportation, a private car service, or a ride-sharing vehicle. Our County has kept its COVID-19 case numbers low compared to other areas of the State. Together, we can reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

COVID-19 Testing Update

As our ability to perform more surgical procedures has expanded, so has the need to test patients with scheduled procedures for COVID-19 so their care can move forward in a safe manner. We continue to do about 150 tests a week, and have been able to test all pre-operative patients having surgery at Sansum Clinic and patients with symptoms. We have seen the percent of patients testing positive stay in the one-two percent range for the last few weeks, which continues to be much lower than it was 6 weeks ago, which is encouraging. However, our rate is similar to others testing in our community and it means that the COVID-19 virus is still around and we need to be careful.  The Santa Barbara Independent recently profiled Sansum Clinic Urgent Care Manager Mimosa Bitter, RN who helped to create and continues to run our testing site. You can read about it here.

More testing is occurring now in our County and the Santa Barbara County Health Department is encouraging anyone who wants testing for COVID-19 to schedule an appointment at the community testing sites. Priority is offered to people with symptoms, patients who are medically vulnerable and essential workers, and rapid testing is still reserved for emergency situations.

What is Sansum Clinic Doing to Keep Patients Safe?

Sansum Clinic is dedicated to providing the medical care our community needs. We are constantly re-evaluating our protocols and procedures to ensure our patients stay safe and healthy. We have rigorous infection control measures in place and are screening everyone who enters our buildings for symptoms. We require that everyone wear masks the entire time they are at our 22 clinical locations. You may not be able to see our smiles behind our protective gear, but we’ll do our best to show you our compassion and gratitude, exhibited below by Internal Medicine physicians Dr. Rick Ponce and Dr. Mark Juretic. Please click here for more information about our safety precautions.

Sansum Clinic Doctors
Photo credit: Saffi Algarazi, Medical Assistant, Internal Medicine at 215 Pesetas Lane

We feel lucky to share our knowledge on the correct use of personal protective equipment or PPE with our community. Sam Taylor, manager of Sansum Clinic’s Occupational Medicine Department (pictured below with Thomas Blake, DDS) has been assisting local dentists to properly fit their respirators so they can open up their practices. Dentists are not usually required to wear these respirators; however, since coronavirus spreads through the air and dentists perform many procedures that create both droplets and aerosolized particles, OSHA now requires the use of respirators. We join so many others who are doing jobs they never envisioned to help fight spread of the virus and it’s truly inspiring.

Occupational Medicine manager, Sandy Green              

N95 mask fit check complete! Thank you Sansum Clinic for such a thorough test and education on how a mask should fit,” said Thomas Blake, DDS. Photo credit: Krista Blake

Can I Access the Care I Need Now?
As we reintroduce more appointments and procedures that were delayed due to COVID-19, our patients are returning to us little by little. This is extremely gratifying. We want you to feel safe when you visit, and we do not want you to delay important medical care. We have expanded our pharmacy hours and our Urgent Care is open daily. Please check this list for all of our updated hours here .
While we are staffed to manage in-person visits, another way to receive medical care right is through our Telehealth program, which allows you to have a video or telephone “virtual visit” while remaining safely at home. This practice is surprising those who initially were skeptical that a telehealth visit could be smooth and thorough but many of our patients and physicians are learning that the modern-day house call is efficient and helpful on many levels. Originally a skeptic of telehealth, Pediatrician Dr. Dan Brennan makes a compelling argument in this article on Noozhawk about its use, and how he changed his mind about the modern-day house call.

 Virtual Visit with Dr. Brennan

About the photo: “One of my friends made this for me. One of my happy places is on a baseball field and so my Zoom background is in the dugout at Angel Stadium. My patients think I have been keeping Mike Trout's arm strength up by playing catch between Telehealth visits.,” Dr. Dan Brennan. Photo credit: Scott Craig

We thought you might be interested to see what our visit volumes have been like over the last few months. Below is a graph of our weekly office visits – across all of our sites. “Office visits” include Telehealth visits.  The dark blue indicates in-person visits. The light blue shows telehealth visits done by video or phone. You can see the effect of the shutdown in March and the remarkable adoption of telehealth visits by our providers and our patients. You can see the gradual return of in-person visits with continued use of telemedicine, which may predict a new future reality.

Virtual Visits with Telehealth

Graph of weekly office visits (including Telehealth visits) across all Sansum Clinic locations from February 2020 to May 2020
Is there Something I Can Do to Help?
Another incredible act by our community which we benefit greatly from is the mask-making effort by hundreds of local people who graciously and lovingly provided us with homemade cloth masks. We also say thank you to those that are donating much needed N95 masks. We continue to accept cloth masks and N95 masks using the red, drop off bin at the front door of Sansum Clinic’s corporate office at 470 S. Patterson Avenue.
We are truly touched by the numbers of individuals and local businesses who have contributed gifts of support for our Pandemic Relief Fund. We recently received $500,000 from beloved global organization based locally, Direct Relief, whose leaders felt that our situation warranted support. The Pandemic Relief Fund will help purchase additional personal protective equipment and testing supplies so that we may continue to perform essential testing. The funds help us to purchase additional protective equipment, expand our ability to fight infectious disease and continue to keep our operation afloat financially during this exceptionally challenging time. As a nonprofit organization, philanthropic support makes a critical difference in helping us to provide the top-quality healthcare for our community regardless of national disaster, economic uncertainty, and now, a global pandemic.  

Click here to make a tax-deductible gift, and please reference Pandemic Relief Fund in the field that says “Other.”
In closing, please know that we are always thinking of you, your families and loved ones, keeping your best interests in mind. We hope you are staying strong mentally and emotionally, and we will continue to have our focus on you, our patients. 


Kurt Ransohoff Signature


Kurt N. Ransohoff, MD
CEO and Chief Medical Officer         

Links to Sansum and SB County Resources: 


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