Glide Health Services Recognized as National Model

James Irvine Foundation Recognizes UCSF's Patricia Dennehy

UCSF’s Patricia Dennehy, director of the nurse-managed Glide Health Services center, is among five Californians to receive the 2012 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards today (Feb. 13) for applying proven, innovative approaches to some of the state’s most difficult problems.

Dennehy, RN, DNP, NP-BC, FAAN , a clinical professor in the UCSF School of Nursing, is being recognized for her extraordinary work developing the nurse-managed Glide Health Services clinic into a national model that delivers high-quality, cost effective primary care to a low-income population in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.

“We all know Pat as hard working, steadfast, determined and resourceful,” said Carmen Portillo, RN, PhD, chair of the Department of Community Health Systems in the School of Nursing. "She has shaped and developed a model of nursing care and fostered a unique community partnership with the UCSF School of Nursing, Glide and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.” 

Patricia Dennehy, RN, DNP

Patricia Dennehy, a clinical professor in the UCSF School of Nursing, is being recognized for her leadership of the nurse-managed Glide Health Services in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.

For the past 12 years, Dennehy has led the public service program that focuses on:

  • developing a community health practice lead by nurse practitioners,
  • providing access to quality, holistic health care to “safety net populations,”
  • tracking data and results on care (process and patient level outcomes),
  • using the care model for quality improvement, and
  • serving as a large teaching unit and research site for nurses and other health professionals.

Now in its seventh year, the foundation’s leadership awards aim to uncover and spotlight breakthrough solutions that have the potential to better the lives of more Californians if policymakers and others expand and replicate these approaches.

“In difficult times, we must not lose sight of the creative solutions and transformative results that Californians are achieving on some of our most significant problems,” said Jim Canales, president and CEO of the Irvine Foundation. “We want to shine a spotlight on these inspiring leaders, and we want to encourage others to help grow and replicate their successful models for an even greater impact on our state.”

The recipients of the awards each receive $125,000 in organizational support. In addition to being recognized by legislators at the State Capitol today, recipients received their awards from elected and appointment officials at an event at Sacramento’s Sheraton Grand Hotel.

Nurse-Managed Care Key to National Health Reform

Glide Health Services received national recognition for its health care efforts with a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2010. It was one of 10 grants given to nurse-managed clinics across the country as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama. The statute provided some $320 million in HHS grants to strengthen the primary care workforce.

“Chronic diseases, most of which are preventable, are one of the main reasons health care costs have soared over the past several decades,” HHS Secretary Katherine Sebelius said at the time of the HHS award. “Investing in our primary care workforce will strengthen the role that wellness and prevention play in our health care system.”

Within two years, if the federal health reforms proceed as expected, some 7 million uninsured Californians will acquire coverage and seek providers. But with an increasing shortage of primary care physicians, many patients will not find the care they need.

Under the direction of Dennehy, Glide Health Services is an example of how nurses, working in partnership with the community, can fill that gap. Each year the nurse practitioners — nurses with advanced training and degrees many of who are trained at UCSF — treat 3,200 patients, who experience high rates of poverty, joblessness, homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse.

Most of these patients are uninsured or under-insured and have no other way to receive health care services. At Glide Health Services, located at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, patients receive primary, urgent and preventive care, including HIV prevention, chronic disease management and mental health treatment.

Glide Health Services is a nurse-run clinic.

In partnership with the UCSF School of Nursing and local medical centers, Glide Health Services, a nurse-managed clinic, provides free health care services to the uninsured and underinsured in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.

Despite the hardships felt in this community, the Glide clinic’s results compare favorably with those of mainstream doctors — and save money. A 2010 study in the Journal of Pediatric Healthcare found that nurse-run clinics save money by reducing visits to the emergency room, where many low-income and uninsured individuals seek care. Nurse practitioners also typically offer comprehensive care at a lower cost than physicians because of salary differences.

The Institute of Medicine 2010 “Future of Nursing” report, which was based on a two-year investigation of how the nursing profession should be transformed, concluded that the nation’s three million nurses can “play a vital role in helping realize the objectives set forth” in the health reform act. But that report acknowledged a number of barriers currently “prevent nurses from being able to respond effectively to rapidly changing health care settings and an evolving health care system.”

Expanding the reach of nurse-run clinics broadly, beyond the safety-net health care system, could reap substantial savings while also helping to meet the higher demand for care that is expected with national health reform in the U.S.

Photos by Elisabeth Fall/

Related Link:

Glide Health Services Get Much Needed Federal Funding Boost