Interior of Hulen Place Clinic
May 1, 2024

Gift to UCR clinic aims to assist local unhoused population

Funding from San Manuel Band of Mission Indians grants greater medical access to low-income residents

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
May 1, 2024

The Hulen Place Clinic, which UCR Health opened in September 2023 to address the health and well-being of the unhoused and underserved populations in the City of Riverside and the County of Riverside, has received a gift of $500,000 from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, a sovereign American Indian tribe of Serrano people in San Bernardino County, California.

Jocelyn Luna, medical assistant/patient care coordinator, prepares an exam room at the Hulen Place Clinic. (UCR/Stan Lim)

Located about two miles from downtown Riverside and adjacent to an emergency shelter and temporary housing units, the clinic provides primary care, mental health services, immediate non-emergency medical services, preventive medical care, diabetes supplies, and blood pressure monitors to unhoused individuals and low-income communities.

Acknowledging that there is no single solution to address the unhoused crisis in Inland Southern California, Timothy Collins, CEO of UCR Health, said leaders and leading organizations must step forward and not stand on the sidelines, expecting others to solve the problem. UCR Health is the clinical arm of the UCR School of Medicine, or SOM.

“The gracious gift of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians demonstrates they are committed to giving back to their communities and investing in solutions to complex problems,” Collins said. “The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and their partnership with UCR Health will proactively address the needs of the unhoused population in Riverside County and increase access to primary care, behavioral health, and supportive care and services necessary to improve their lives.”

Funding from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will allow the clinic to ensure easy in-person and telehealth access for unhoused and low-income residents needing care. The funding also will allow the clinic to serve as a teaching site for SOM residents and medical students who are training to become physicians and want to work and reside in the community.

The City of Riverside is home to approximately 20% of the County of Riverside’s homeless population, estimated at 3,725 in 2023. The 2,500 square-foot-clinic is part of the only full-service homeless facility in western Riverside County. The clinic previously served the unhoused under the Health to Hope organization until it closed in May 2019. SOM and UCR Health partnered with the City of Riverside to reopen the clinic. 

“This clinic is an investment that can help reduce costly hospital admissions and, by offering same-day appointments, it provides services to individuals who might otherwise end up waiting for hours in an emergency room,” said Dr. Deborah Deas, vice chancellor for health sciences and the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of SOM. “The gift to the clinic from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will go a long way to assist the underserved people in our community.”

Dr. Moazzum Bajwa. (UCR/Stan Lim)

Currently, two physicians — Dr. Moazzum Bajwa and Dr. Marc Debay — work on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the clinic, each provider seeing approximately 10 to 15 patients per day. At full operation, the clinic will annually serve approximately 4,800 patients, including 1,300 chronically unhoused. Services will target underserved children and adults needing preventive health care and those with chronic health conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and mental health). The clinic will also coordinate multispecialty care offerings (addiction medicine, endocrinology, women’s health, cardiovascular), and preventive services (immunization and health screenings).

“Many of our patients at the clinic have primary care doctors but they don’t necessarily have easy access to them because they no longer live close to the doctors, have no transportation, and are living in encampments or transitional housing — all of which challenges their ability to maintain continuity with their doctors,” said Bajwa, an assistant clinical professor of health sciences at UCR. “Dr. Debay and I work at the clinic because it matters to the patients, and it challenges us to be at the top of our game as family physicians. Funding is one factor limiting the number of patients we can see here. Gifts, such as the one from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, allow us to keep our doors open.” 

The medical school plans to grow the clinic eventually into a Federally Qualified Health Center, allowing it to receive federal funds to provide healthcare services. Located at 2880 Hulen Place, Riverside, California, the clinic currently operates from 8 am to 5 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It offers walk-in and same-day appointments. More about the clinic.

Header image credit: Stan Lim, UCR.

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