San Diego Health and Faith Alliance Abandons Bid To Open Health Care Training Clinic in Encanto Church
The San Diego Health and Faith Alliance has decided to drop its proposal to open a clinic in an Encanto church that would have trained health care and pastoral care workers and provided no-cost care to uninsured people two days per week, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The decision comes after a "heated debate" last week at a meeting of the Encanto Neighborhoods Community Planning Group that resulted in the alliance being denied the conditional use permit required to open a clinic in the church, the Union-Tribune reports.
The alliance -- whose participants include University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, UCSD School of Pharmacy, Point Loma Nazarene University School of Nursing and USD Marriage and Family Therapy Program and Clinical Pastoral Education Program of San Diego -- has operated a training facility at a church in City Heights since September. Opponents to the project said the clinic should not be located in a residential district because it could attract homeless patients with mental illnesses.
Margaret McCahill, president of SDHFA, said staff from the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation went to "extreme lengths" to drive "this project out of Encanto."
Carolyn Smith, president of the development corporation, said that her staff did not adversely influence the community's decision, but she added that SEDC did oppose the clinic because the project was not well-suited for a residential area, the Union-Tribune reports.
McCahill said she rejected SEDC's suggestion that the clinic be moved to the nearby Euclid Health Center because operating the project out of a medical office would make it difficult for her group to meet the "faith" portion of its mission. McCahill said she "can't logically explain" opposition to the clinic, adding, "We've obviously gotten caught in the crossfire of some kind of behind-the-scenes politics."
Derryl Williams, chair of the community planning group, said the project, which he voted to approve, had been undermined by misinformation coming from people at the meeting who were "called and told to be there." Williams added, "For the most part, [the meeting] was scripted."
McCahill said, "It really deeply saddens us that the people of Encanto will be excluded from the potential benefit of our programs" (Green, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/20).