Nearly 200 UCLA volunteers help provide medical, dental and vision services.
For Gilda McKoy, the Care Harbor health clinic at the L.A. Sports Arena was a godsend. The 58-year-old was experiencing pain in her knees, and it had been quite some time since her last blood pressure check and pap smear. Lacking medical insurance, she had been praying for help when she heard about the annual clinic, where she celebrated her birthday on Sept. 28 by receiving a free health exam.
McKoy was one of nearly 3,800 patients who lined up for health care services provided by a small army of volunteer health care professionals — including nearly 200 volunteers from the UCLA Health System and the schools of dentistry and nursing. Organized by Care Harbor in collaboration with L.A. Care Health Plan and Dignity Health, and co-sponsored by the UCLA Health System, the Sept. 27-30 clinic provided free medical, dental and vision services for those who are uninsured or otherwise can’t afford proper health care.
“God is really working when you pray,” said an appreciative McKoy. “God is good, and these people who are doing this, may God bless them.”
The UCLA volunteers provided on-the-spot treatment for a wide variety of ailments and, in some cases, gave referrals for followup care.
For Dr. Carol Mangione, professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine, volunteering at the clinic reflected her concerns about the acute need for health care among that L.A.’s underserved — and oftentimes unemployed — population.
“It’s sad so many people need services like this in Los Angeles,” said Mangione, who added, “I don’t think events like this will disappear after the Affordable Care Act is implemented. Since the act doesn’t include undocumented people, Los Angeles will continue to need these clinics.”
Dr. Anne Coleman, professor-in-residence and director of Jules Stein Eye Institute’s community outreach, led a team of 17 volunteer UCLA ophthalmologists who saw patients with diabetes-related eye illnesses, as well as conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and keratoconus, a deformity of the cornea. This is the fourth year in a row that Coleman has volunteered.
“I think it’s a very important part of life to give back,” Coleman said. “I’ve been given a lot and it’s nice to see how engaged UCLA is in community outreach.”