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Caring Hands In Health Application

This application is available for submission by San Mateo Medical Center (SMMC) and Puente de la Costa Sur staff on behalf of active SMMC patients with a valid Medical Record Number (MRN) who have received care at SMMC or its affiliated clinics within the past 3 calendar years. 


The San Mateo County Health Foundation reviews applications Monday-Thursday. Applications submitted Friday-Sunday will be reviewed the following week. An application review usually takes 48-72 hours to review, however, some cases may require a longer review process.


Kindly note that our policy was updated as of September 2023. To facilitate a smooth application process, we recommend reviewing the detailed Caring Hands in Health policy information below by clicking through the topics below before starting your application at the bottom of the page. For your convenience, you can also download the policy document HERE.


Caring Hands Policy

The applicant must:

  • Be an active patient at SMMC’s hospital or clinics within the last 3 calendar years.
  • Possess an MRN.
  • Be a San Mateo County resident with a confirmed county address. (Unhoused individuals within San Mateo County are also encouraged to apply).
  • Be facing dire circumstances, requiring immediate support, and must have exhausted all available options not covered by their insurance, government programs, or other community resources.

Caring Hands in Health is a financial aid program for SMMC patients who need immediate support. We provide assistance to applicants whose requests align with the defined financial aid categories. These categories include:

  • Basic Living Necessities
  • Emergency Housing Assistance
  • Medical Billing
  • Dental Procedures
  • Transportation to/from medical appointments
  • Senior Meals

An application can only be submitted by a staff member from SMMC or Puente de la Costa Sur.


The applicant must provide their consent for the disclosure of personal information, including their MRN, name, address, and phone number, at the time of application submission. Consent can be given through a signature on the online form if the applicant is present in person or by checking a designated box indicating verbal consent during a virtual or phone appointment.


SMMC Staff Form Submission Requirements:

  • MRN
  • Name of Applicant’s Provider
  • Provider’s Confirmation of Patient Condition and Need for Requested Assistance


For Puente staff who may not have their clients’ MRN or Provider’s name readily available, the Foundation can assist in obtaining this for them. However, this may cause a delay in the approval process. Puente staff must also verify that the applicant is an active patient at SMMC and that their residence is within San Mateo County on the online application.

It is the responsibility of the person filling out the application on behalf of the applicant to ensure that due diligence has been performed and information on the application is truthful to the best of their knowledge.


SMCHF reserves the right to cancel the application if we discover it has been purposely filled out with false information, and the applicant had their household will no longer be able to submit future applications for assistance.

An application can be submitted up to twice per calendar year for each household. A household is defined as all members of an immediate family living in the same address. 


The first application must be under $100 for a second application to be allowed unless the first application is for Emergency Housing Assistance or Transportation to/from medical appointments/procedures.


The foundation does not cover the following:

  • Cash
  • Childcare
  • Cosmetic Procedures
  • Gym Memberships
  • Legal Fees
  • Moving and Storage Expenses
  • Vehicle-related Expenses (car payments, repairs, gas, parking fees, toll violations, registration)


Other Limitations:

  • Emergency housing assistance will only be awarded once per lifetime.
  • Payments are issued directly to the landlord or vendor, not to the applicant.
  • Cash is never given directly to applicants.

Each application can receive a maximum award of up to $800 for basic necessities.


Necessities that qualify are:

  • Groceries
  • Personal Care Items
  • Baby Items (stroller, car seat, etc.)
  • Accessibility Equipment (walker, standard wheelchair, etc.)
  • Items associated with someone’s health and well-being (exercise tools, medical equipment, etc.)


Grocery Assistance:

Grocery assistance will be awarded in the form of a $100 Safeway gift card. Other basic living necessities may be awarded in the form of a $100 Target gift card. Each applicant is limited to one Safeway and one Target gift card. In order for other adults in the same immediate family living in the same household to also receive gift cards, they must possess and submit a MRN. The applicant’s minor children under 18 years old living in the same household will also be provided gift cards regardless if they have a MRN, but the name and date of birth for each minor receiving a gift card must be submitted. These additional gift cards will be awarded to the parent applicant on behalf of the minors. 


Pickup of Items Awarded:

For security reasons, gift cards are never mailed. They need to be picked up from the SMCHF office by the applicant or their authorized representative. An authorized representative can be a family member, caregiver, friend, the staff member that submitted the application, or another member of the staff from that team. Any person picking up items from SMCHF must present valid ID (badge for SMMC/LifeMoves/Puente staff members, photo ID from the applicant or applicant’s authorized representative or the applicant’s SMMC yellow card). Advanced arrangements must be made with SMCHF for the pickup.

Medical Billing Assistance

Each applicant can receive a maximum award of up to $1,000 for medical billing items per calendar year. 


The eligible items include items that are not reimbursable through insurance or other government assistance programs.

Medical billing items that qualify are:

  • Co-pays
  • Prescriptions
  • Medical Needs (i.e., adult incontinence supplies)


Dental Procedure Assistance

Each applicant can receive a maximum award of up to $2,000 for medical billing items per calendar year for dental procedures not covered by insurance and other government assistance.

There are two types of emergency housing assistance that can be requested:

  • Rental assistance
  • Temporary Motel Accommodations


Rental Assistance | Up to $2,000 

Applicants are eligible to receive a one-time maximum award of up to $2,000 for emergency housing assistance. Family members in the same household or other people living at the same residence cannot apply separately for an additional housing assistance award. 

The applicant must already be working on a long-term housing solution before an application is submitted and their social worker / case manager must be aware of their plans. The award is for no more than half the rent amount to cover no more than 2 months of rent and must be made on the same application. The total not to exceed $2,000. The San Mateo County Health Foundation will contact the landlord to verify the applicant’s monthly rent amount. 

The Foundation will never give an applicant or their family cash or any type of payment made to their name. This includes situations where an applicant advanced money to pay for a deposit or rent. The landlord will receive the awarded amount directly payable to the property manager. 

Security deposits will NOT be covered.


Temporary Motel Accommodations | Up to $2,500

The San Mateo County Health Foundation will cover a motel stay for special circumstances for no more than 30 days for:

  • Recuperative care
  • Domestic violence cases
  • Unhoused people with children waiting to enter a shelter

The applicant must have a credit or debit card to submit to the motel for incidentals upon check-in. The Foundation will not cover this expense.


Transportation requests are outside of the two-application per calendar year limit. 

This request:

  • Is for applicants that have no other means of getting to the hospital and clinics
  • Should only be scheduled in cases when transportation cannot be provided by SMMC or other county programs (Rideshare, taxi vouchers, etc.)
  • For rides where a companion is required to escort the patient home after a procedure such as a colonoscopy.

The San Mateo County Health Foundation has partnered with Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. to provide meal service for people 60 years old and above who live alone and cannot prepare their own meals or who are recovering from medical surgery and have difficulty being mobile. 


Depending on the need, we will authorize several weeks to months of meal service delivered by Meals On Wheels with all charges covered by the San Mateo County Health Foundation.

San Mateo County Health Foundation - Logo Transparent

San Mateo County Health Foundation, incorporated in 1989, is a public 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting San Mateo Medical Center and county clinics.