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For Low-Income Drug Users, Medi-Cal Offers A Fresh Start

The sheer numbers of calls completely overwhelmed and also excited us.”

At Whiteside Manor, director Ron Vervick said the additional reimbursement from Medi-Cal enabled him to hire more counselors, drivers, nurses and intake workers. Many of the residents at Whiteside are homeless and mentally ill. In the past, he said, they didn’t get the care they needed.

Kendall Jenkins sought treatment at Whiteside Manor in Riverside after years of heavy drinking and using methamphetamines, heroin and pills. He was relieved when he heard that Medi-Cal would cover his stay at the inpatient drug rehabilitation center. (Anna Gorman/KHN)

One resident of Whiteside Manor, Kendall Jenkins, sought treatment in early May after years of heavy drinking and drug use that included heroin, methamphetamines and pills — “anything I could get my hands on.” A former college golfer and hotel valet, Jenkins, 30, was homeless off and on, and spent stretches living in his car. He recently left the facility, found work at a hotel and is staying in a sober-living home nearby.

Jenkins said that when he learned Medi-Cal would cover his stay at Whiteside, he felt relieved. He was able to participate in individual counseling and group therapy and said the center “saved my life.”

Though he still thinks a lot about using heroin, he knows where he would end up if he did.

“It’s not worth it,” he said. “I know I can do this.”

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.