Message of Gratitude


Nothing is more important to us than the clients we serve. This past weekend, we distributed food to over 1,400 people at College Park Elementary in San Mateo. Registered families and individuals received grocery items including fresh produce, canned goods and frozen turkeys.

For some clients, like Martha of San Mateo, it was a chance to share a message of thanks. “Samaritan House has changed my life. I was a patient at the Free Medical Clinic in San Mateo and am here today receiving food for the holidays.  I would like to thank you for all of the help you provide to everyone in need. Thanks to everyone who came together  to make this happen.”  Martha adds, “It’s very much appreciated. It helps us out so much.  Today’s food helps me save a lot and I don’t worry as much about spending more on groceries. May God bless you and I wish you all a Merry Christmas.”

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community.  We will continue to be here for all our neighbors in need.





Our Revolutionary Food Pharmacy Program In The News Again!

Dr Wong KPIX best

Our thanks to KPIX CBS San Francisco Bay Area Reporter and Jefferson Awards Host, Sharon Chin for her report on our revolutionary Food Pharmacy program, done in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank and Sequoia Healthcare District! This in-depth report aired on Thanksgiving Day.

Included in the coverage is our Food Pharmacy patient Laura, with translation support from our remarkable Gracie Medina, RWC Clinic Manager. Our Medical Director Dr. Jason Wong and CEO Bart Charlow are also featured!

San Mateo Fire Department Donates Storage Unit of New Toys to Samaritan House


An abundance of gratitude to the San Mateo City Fire Department for their generous donation of thousands of brand-new toys! This includes large play kitchens and other play sets! The SMFD were looking to clear one of their storage units and gave the toys to Samaritan House for distribution. A plethora of brand new toys for our littlest neighbors in need, and we had nowhere to store them. When the San Mateo County Event Center heard about our need, they donated storage space free of charge. Talk about a community of coming together! All these toys (and more!) will be distributed to our client families this December at our Holiday Shop at the San Mateo County Event Center!

“The SMFD chose to donate these toys to Samaritan House because it is a great organization and we know these toys will be delivered to local kids to brighten their Holiday season.” –Angelo Santiago, SMFD Firefighter and Toys for Tots Program Director (pictured on R with CEO Bart Charlow)

#Gratitude #WeAreSamHouse #SanMateoCountyEventCenter #ToysForTots



San Carlos Tennis Club Donates $23,000 to Samaritan House

SCTC Banner Full Crew

On November 14, 2017, a check for $23,000 was presented to Samaritan House CEO Bart Charlow and City of Belmont Council Member and Samaritan House Board Member Davina Hurt from the San Carlos Tennis Club. Our deep thanks to the San Carlos Tennis Club and one of its members, who wishes to remain anonymous,  for this generous donation! The SCTC hosted a Charity Drive and Samaritan House was fortunate to be chosen as the beneficiary. The check presentation took place at Belmont City Hall and was attended by San Carlos Tennis Club President John Farcich, Incoming President Susan Gibson, Treasurer Roger Van Cleve and Board Member Tami Adachi.

“We selected Samaritan House because of its focus on the community of San Mateo County and its many programs that benefit those in need.” -John Farcich, President.

The SCTC was founded in 1975 as a non-profit entirely run by volunteers. With over 600 members, they play at courts in San Carlos, Belmont and Redwood City.  The SCTC was named Best Community-Based Tennis Organization in Northern California by USTA/NorCal in 2013.

This generous donation assists us as we continue our mission of helping our neighbors in need.  Thank you, San Carlos Tennis Club!

Samaritan House is Honored with a 2017 Community Partnership Award from Stanford



Samaritan House is immensely proud to have been honored with a 2017 Stanford Community Partnership Award for our work at the Samaritan House Free Clinic of Redwood City, headed by Dr. Jason Wong, Medical Director (pictured 2nd from left).

“Dr. Wong and his team have embedded themselves in the medical community, and they find every creative and rewarding way to embed Stanford Health Care personnel in our Clinic. It’s a partnership that everyone enjoys, especially our patients, who then benefit from some of very best medical care available,” Bart Charlow Samaritan House CEO.

To learn more about the 2017 Stanford Community Partnership honorees, go to:…/community-partnership-awards-ho…/#

Pictured from left to right: Colleen Haesloop Johnson, MPA/HSA, Stanford Health Care Director of Community Partnerships; Dr. Jason Wong, Samaritan House Medical Director; Bart Charlow, Samaritan House CEO; Elvia Torres, Samaritan House Redwood City Clinic Medical Assistant; Gracie Medina, Samaritan House Redwood City Clinic Manager and Andy Coe, Stanford Health Care Chief Government & Community Relations Officer.

Photo credit: Stanford University Office of Public Affairs

Message to our Community in response to recent Natural Disasters




We are the world here in San Mateo County. We have residents from all over the planet, and they have loved ones whom they support emotionally and often financially in so many places. Unfortunately, when disaster strikes almost anywhere, you can be sure that it hits home to some of our neighbors. The people we serve at Samaritan House are certainly the rule, rather than the exception. We have people we care deeply about in Texas, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And while we have watched their tragedies unfold, they are far from over.

Can you imagine someone struggling so hard to live here while sending money back to relatives there to help them survive, and now this extra hardship? We can, because we see it here among our neighbors every day now.

On behalf of all of us at Samaritan House, our thoughts are with those with friends or loved ones affected by recent events.

Bart signature

Bart Charlow,  Samaritan House CEO

Health Partner Profile

Interview with Bill Graham, President, Sequoia Hospital and Marie Violet, Director, Health and Wellness Center, Sequoia Hospital

With Mary Dunbar, Samaritan House

Graham_Bill Marie Violet

Over the past year, Samaritan House has featured healthcare partner leaders in celebration of their generous financial, in-kind, and volunteer support of our Redwood City and San Mateo Free Clinics. We are grateful to the many healthcare institutions, volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses, and other volunteers who have kept our Free Clinics in operation for 25 years. It is through their individual and collective support that tens of thousands of uninsured, low-income patients have received quality primary and specialty healthcare in San Mateo County.


Mary Dunbar: Thank you so much for meeting with me today, Bill and Marie! Samaritan House is grateful for the long partnership we’ve enjoyed with Sequoia Hospital. This past year Sequoia Hospital had 1,611 encounters with the Samaritan House Redwood City Free Clinic patients and provided a total of $593,699.00 of in-kind lab and radiology services. In conversations with other healthcare leaders like you, I’ve discovered that the vision for each nonprofit hospital’s community engagement is often much greater than the community benefit requirements the I.R.S. dictates. People may be surprised to learn that hospitals like Sequoia donate a significant amount of time, money, and resources to the community. What’s your vision for Sequoia Hospital and its role in the community over the next few years?


Bill Graham: I always go back to the fact that Sequoia was formed by the community. We were a district hospital created through a special vote of the population back in the mid-1940s to serve the health needs of the local residents. Ultimately, that’s our job—to provide very high-quality care and an unparalleled patient experience to our neighbors in the communities we serve. As Sequoia evolves over the coming years, we’ll continue to diversify the work that we do. We’re exploring strategic partners that allow us to build and develop new programs to meet the changing needs of the community, as well as to provide care in the outpatient setting. We know that care is shifting from inpatient (in a hospital setting) to outpatient. One of our main areas of focus will be ensuring we have enough primary care and specialty physicians to effectively address this change in the care setting.  An important means of defining Sequoia’s role in the community is through the Community Health Needs Assessment and our own annual Community Benefit Report. These tools help assess and address the most urgent health needs in the county.


Mary: How exactly are those urgent health needs identified?


Marie Violet: The Healthy Community Collaborative is made of representatives from local hospitals, the county health department, the Peninsula Health Care District, and other health care providers. The collaborative, of which Sequoia Hospital was a founding member, was convened in 1994 when California first adopted the community benefit requirement (SB-697). Together, we conduct the triannual Community Health Needs Assessment. Our Community Advisory Committee is deeply involved in this process, giving input and advice on the ranking of the resultant 21 community health needs. They help prioritize which specific needs Sequoia Hospital should make a focus. From there, we take the county-wide report and create our own Community Benefit Plan. The Health & Wellness Center leads development of the plan, which is then reviewed and approved by our Community Board. Both our Community Advisory Committee and Community Board are composed of community members who represent a wide array of interests and perspectives, and who serve as catalysts for relationship building and partnerships with organizations, businesses, and individuals in the community.  Sequoia’s primary focuses this year are to address diabetes, childhood obesity, health care access and delivery, behavioral health, and fitness/diet/nutrition. As we do each year, we are actively identifying what resources we currently have to address these issues and partnering with nonprofit community partners to create solutions.

Bill: The nice thing about working together is that we all start from the same baseline. No one entity could ever accomplish or address all of the issues that are identified as unmet health needs. Although San Mateo County is much healthier than many other counties, we still have issues that we need to address. Each of us, within our own particular part of the county, can narrow that down and discuss the county’s most pressing needs and then identify how we can best meet these needs based on our relationships with community partners.

Marie: Our overarching goal it to ensure that we’re supporting those who are the most underserved and vulnerable. Much of our work with the community is accomplished through the Sequoia Hospital Health & Wellness Center, and it couldn’t be done without collaboration. We come up with projects and then we find partners. It’s our role, essentially, to be the convener. It’s amazing what you can get done when that happens.


Bill: There are a lot of available resources in the community, but sometimes those resources aren’t always organized or structured in a way that’s effective. First, we identify the area that we want to be involved in, and then we ask the question “what problem are we trying to solve?” The second question we ask is, “Who’s already doing that work?” It doesn’t make sense for us to try to build something or spend a lot of money to try to fix a problem when there are many others already out there doing the same work. The leadership role we provide is bringing people together to effectively utilize resources, and coordinating and directing resources around a specific issue—something we’ve done consistently over the last 20 years.

Marie: One of the most inspiring outcomes to emerge from this collaborative process was how much all of the community service organizations enjoyed working together and discovering what each other did. I think over the years we’ve gone from many silos and a lot of competition for resources to a feeling that there is enough out there for everybody—when we work together. The needs are great, so if we take what we do best and then collaborate, we’re all successful.


Bill: Improving health care access and delivery in particular is a key priority for Sequoia. Our goal has been to identify at-risk individuals who weren’t able to return to their homes after a significant heath episode, particularly older adults. We want to help them avoid becoming dependent on infrastructure away from their home, such as skilled nursing facilities, or worse, being readmitted to the hospital. Sequoia brought together a variety of organizations, all of whom provided services to support patients in returning home after hospitalization. Samaritan House is one of these valuable partner organizations. It fills a void and plays a significant role in helping Sequoia Hospital fulfill its mission. Many who receive care through Samaritan House now have a consistent touchpoint with a physician and other medical professionals to help manage their health issues. They also gain access to other social services. Through Marie’s efforts, the partnership between Samaritan House and Sequoia Hospital helps address a critical need and improves the well-being of many members of our community.

Marie: Through our work with Samaritan House and other incredible community service organizations, the Sequoia Community Care Program was born. The program facilitates the transition from the community hospital setting to home care for adults aged 50 and older who have risk factors for hospital admission or readmission—including isolation, language and cultural barriers, inadequate support systems, or disabilities. As a part of this program, patients are tracked for 30 days after discharge, and can receive in-home safety checks, access to Meals on Wheels delivery, and other transitional support. Patients without a primary care physician are connected with Samaritan House for a post-discharge check-up and guidance on eligibility for insurance. The program has led to measurably improved recovery and outcomes for these patients.


Mary: What other types of follow-up care do you provide through the Sequoia Community Care Program to prevent re-admissions to the hospital?


Marie: At the Sequoia Hospital Health & Wellness Center, we facilitate two evidence-based programs, a Matter of Balance fall prevention class for older adults and the Diabetes Education Empowerment Program. Once per month at Belmont Library, we host a class called Maturing Gracefully with support from Friends of the Belmont Library, and it’s not unusual to have 35 to 40 people there every month to learn about a health topic.

However, we find that we have the most success in helping people when we go to them, when we provide follow up care in their own environment where they’re comfortable, rather than asking them to come to the Health & Wellness Center. A Sequoia Hospital nurse visits all the local community centers for older adults on a regular basis. She performs blood pressure checks monthly, and glucose tests quarterly to any who want them. It’s a phenomenal program because of the consistency it provides. That same nurse tracks each patient over time, and the patient can take their results to their doctor if follow-up is required, such as a medication change or something that would alert their physician to a more serious problem needing further investigation.


Bill: Yes, it’s amazing. Marie and her team can go out to the community center and provide some basic screenings and identify very problematic high blood pressure or other types of issues that could be very devastating to one’s health if not controlled. We’re able to get people connected to resources like Samaritan House to keep them from having significant complications. Samaritan House does incredible work and has been a consistent, valued resource.


Mary: What are some of the other ways that you partner with community based organizations?


Marie: The Medical Director of Samaritan House, Jason Wong, MD, was instrumental in helping us develop the Sequoia Community Care Program and currently serves on both our Community Advisory Committee and our Community Board. He has been instrumental advisor as we developed programs to address the needs of older adults and those living with and affected by diabetes.


Mary: I love Dignity Health’s Hello Humankindness campaign. What are your thoughts about Sequoia Hospital’s humankindness stories?


Bill: Hello humankindness evokes a certain awareness and way of thinking. We’re about community. From its earliest days, Sequoia Hospital has been a place where your friends, family, and neighbors come for care—and this creates a special environment. When we talk about humankindness, it’s about making these personal connections. As a result, we hear a lot of “humankindness” stories throughout the day. Many people send us letters and emails to comment on the positive ways they were treated and the high-quality, compassionate care they received here at Sequoia.


Mary: That’s really powerful. Thank you, Bill and Marie, for sharing a bit of your history on Sequoia Hospital’s collaborative partnerships in the community and for your commitment to improve the quality of life for all of San Mateo County’s residents.


About Bill Graham, President, Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital: Prior to being named Sequoia Hospital President in 2015, Bill served jointly as both Vice President of Physician and Business Development for Sequoia Hospital and Chief Strategy Officer for Dignity Health’s Bay Area Service Area. His contributions at Sequoia span the entire breadth of the hospital’s services, from securing dedicated funding and infrastructure for the award-winning Heart and Vascular Institute, to leading the development of a cardiovascular co-management program aligning three distinct physician groups, to co-leading the effort to secure $15 million in funding to reopen a closed perioperative suite. As Vice President of Physician Development, Bill expanded the Dignity Health Medical Foundation to include Sequoia Hospital, catalyzed the creation of the Sequoia Physicians Network (IPA) aligning more than 200 affiliated physicians and, with physician leaders, co-led development of a clinically integrated physician network supporting an innovative managed care strategy.

About Marie Violet, Director of the Health & Wellness Center, Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital:

Marie Violet has been serving Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City since 1981. In 1994, she joined the Health & Wellness Services Department, and in 1995 was appointed the department’s Director. Sequoia Hospital’s Health & Wellness Center is responsible for planning and implementing community benefit programs and initiatives within the hospital’s service area for both broad and vulnerable communities with disproportionately unmet health related needs. Programs include Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, Healthy Aging in Place, Child/Youth Healthy Development, and Community Building. Marie manages the annual Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital Community Grants Program for non-profit organizations. Marie is dedicated to developing strong collaborative relationships with community partners who share resources and demonstrate ongoing commitment to shared goals.  She is co-chair of the Healthy Community Collaborative of San Mateo County, which oversees the triennial Community Health Needs Assessment.

KCBS Radio Food Pharmacy Story

KCBS with Patient Cropped

Samaritan House was in the news again talking about our revolutionary #FoodPharmacy program done in partnership with Sequoia Healthcare District and Second Harvest Food Bank! The story aired July 31, 2017. Many thanks to KCBS Radio Reporter Margie Shafer (740 AM/106.9 FM) for visiting our #RedwoodCity Free Clinic and speaking with our patient, Laura. Take a listen.
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Health Partner Profile

David Entwistle Photo

David Entwistle, President and CEO, Stanford Health Care
An interview with Mary Dunbar, Samaritan House

Over the past year, Samaritan House has featured healthcare partner leaders in celebration of their generous financial, in-kind and volunteer support of our Redwood City and San Mateo Free Clinics. We are grateful to the many volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and other volunteers who have kept our Free Clinics in operation for 25 years. It is through their individual and collective support that tens of thousands of uninsured, low-income patients have received quality, primary and specialty healthcare in San Mateo County.

Stanford has partnered with Samaritan House since 2005. In this feature, we spoke with David Entwistle, President and CEO of Stanford Health Care:

Mary Dunbar: David, Stanford Health Care is one of the most recognized and innovative medical institutions in the country. How did you find your way here?

David Entwistle: I’ve spent my whole career in academic medicine. I started my career at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, then I moved on to the City of Hope in Los Angeles, then to the University of Wisconsin, and most recently, the University of Utah. I just love academics. Stanford Health Care is one of the most recognizable brands among academic medical centers. We are truly unique. There are some innovative things that we’re doing here that aren’t being done anywhere around the country.

MD: David, you’ve accomplished a lot, and you have a track record and deep experience working in large, teaching healthcare institutions. Are there advantages for the patients who receive care in this environment?

David Entwistle: Absolutely, yes. Without a question. Let me share my own experience. I was involved in a bicycle accident and, unfortunately, ended up in the hospital for some period of time, about eight or nine years ago. I was being treated in the academic medical center where I worked. The nice part about being in a large academic medical center is that it has every specialty available. I had suffered a traumatic brain injury — I was in need of a neurosurgeon, a neurologist, interventional radiology, trauma, and all the things that go along with each of those specialties.

The exciting part, and what we feel provides an advantage to the community, is being able to have all of those resources in place for when the patient needs it. Not only will you have access to the very best physicians who are training our next generation, you’ll also have all specialties and services in one place. That’s part of the reason I have only worked in academic medical centers, because I feel so strongly about the comprehensive nature of the care.

Why do we need all these resources? It’s because we’re teaching the next, great, could be neurosurgeon, could be general surgeon, could be oncologist. They are being trained here, and, so, having all the specialties and services is what enables us to train effectively. When you take a look at Stanford in addition to all those things, you don’t just have good medical professionals, you have the very best. Even as you look at national rankings, we’re the top in the country. It’s not that we’re in quest of a prize, but I think it validates what you can get by coming to Stanford, the expertise and the individuals. As you can tell, I’m very passionate about this subject. So, yes, there’s an advantage. And having taken advantage those resources personally, it’s something I feel very strongly about.

MD: What inspired you to choose a career in healthcare administration?

DE: I took three years of Latin in high school. You might be asking yourself “Why did you take three years of Latin going into healthcare?” Actually, I was determined to be an attorney. I went through all the prep work, selected pre-law in my application for college and then did a two year volunteer mission for the LDS Church. While I was out for two years volunteering, and very determined, I met several attorneys. I had the opportunity to interact with them, and thought, “I don’t know if that’s a career I necessarily want to get into.” I had also met several hospital administrators. At the end of the day, I really wanted to be in a field that has a benefit to people. This career really felt like it was the right fit for me.

MD: Community benefit programs provide critical support to organizations like Samaritan House. What kinds of community partnerships does Stanford Health Care engage in on the Peninsula?

DE: We typically look at things that are in alignment with our core capabilities. Every three years, we do a community needs assessment. Stanford does a local assessment as well as a regional, a national and even an international assessment of each population of patients that come here for care. When we look at the local communities that we serve in San Mateo, Santa Clara and several other counties around us, we look at the unique needs in each of those areas. Then we focus on providing care for those specific needs. We also think it’s important for the greater community to have access to care at Stanford, which is why we’ve done so much expansion in the region.

When we are working with our community partners, we look at the things that can help with some of the preemptive community needs to prevent patients from getting to the point where they have to use the emergency room. Whether it’s Samaritan House, or another partner, we want to help provide access to local resources before the patient’s needs become an emergency. As you and I were talking about earlier, sometimes people are reluctant to access services because they are uninsured or lack financial resources. The question is how can we encourage access on their own turf where they perhaps will be more apt to utilize the services versus waiting until they get so ill they need to go to the emergency room? They can be pretty far down the road with an illness when that occurs. We want to help remove that barrier to healthcare access through our partnerships.

MD: Many of the patients that come to us are referred by word-of-mouth, or they’ve heard about Samaritan House because they’ve gone through one of our health partner’s emergency rooms. Through our partnership with Stanford Health Care, and other partners, a crucial patient referral network has been built. We appreciate it. We know that the patients we see are utilizing the emergency rooms less.

DE: We appreciate the partnership too.

MD: I realize that you’re new to the Bay Area, have you had an opportunity to be personally engaged in the community?

DE: Yes, we have. We’d had a number of service activities that we had been involved with, including helping individuals who are elderly with visits and making sure they have their needs met. There’s a sweet lady that my son and I have been working with, she just turned 84, in fact, today! We had the opportunity to see her on Sunday and enjoyed a pre-celebration with her. This is an amazing community, there’s so many wonderful people in it.

MD: Since you arrived in the Bay Area, what’s been a standout experience for you and your family?

DE: We’ve had a lot of great experiences. We spent yesterday with a group of individuals down at Santa Cruz beach, which we had not been to before. That’s probably the most memorable place so far. I love to ride bikes, whether it’s riding in the Sequoia Forest or locally. We’re having a great time here. To get out and see this wonderful community and landscape, it’s amazing.

MD: Thank you so much, David. Stanford Health Care and the community is lucky to have you!

David Entwistle joined Stanford Health Care as CEO in July 2016 with extensive executive experience at leading academic medical centers.  Most recently he served as CEO of the University of Utah Hospital & Clinics (UUHC). He previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin and as Vice President of Professional Services and Joint Venture Operations at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences from Brigham Young University and a Master’s in Health Services Administration from Arizona State University. He also was awarded a postgraduate administrative fellowship at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.


Keys to Hope: Gary’s Story

In the Spring of 2016, I lost my job due to cutbacks, faced hard times and became homeless. That summer, I was able to get into Safe Harbor Shelter, where they gave me the chance to pause, regroup, and grow. I was assigned Healthcare Case Manager Kat Barrientos and we met weekly. We set up goals for me. I started saving aggressively at Safe Harbor, and during that time, Kat was an ear and mentor who didn’t judge me. She kept an open mind and held out hope for me until I was ready to accept it myself.  She provided just the right amount of support. Within my first week at Safe Harbor, I got a job. It started out as part-time, 5 hours a day, but soon came to be full time.  This was a very positive turning point in my life.

Late August 2016, I went from an emergency bed into a transitional bed. I would then start meeting with my case manager every two weeks.  She always had an open door policy when the extra support was needed. I increased my saving amounts consistently with the knowledge that I would need to rebuild. Much to my excitement, at the end of January, I was granted a housing voucher from the County of San Mateo.  In March 2017, I got an apartment of my own.  I also received an additional salary increase from work. In a short 7 months, I went from being homeless to having my own apartment and a great job.

Gary's Keys of Hope
Gary’s Keys to Hope

To be successful, you have to be willing to do the work. It takes dedication and hard work on the part of the client.  Kat always told me ‘I am not here to do everything for you, but to support, encourage and give you the tools to be successful without me.’ That is her greatest gift to me.

I want to thank all Samaritan House and the Safe Harbor Staff for allowing me the opportunity to better my situation, as well as the great support they give out.