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Summer 2007

UCLA Partnership Will Bring Healthcare to Underserved

UCLA students and physicians help bring primary care to one of the city's poorest communities

When it opens in Fall 2007, the Sun Valley Community Health Center will represent a unique partnership between the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Northeast Valley Health Corporation.

A modern 10,000-square-foot clinic, the center is being built on the campus of Sun Valley Middle School to serve a community of 53,000 mostly working-class and low-income Latino residents that historically has lacked adequate neighborhood healthcare services. Rates of asthma, obesity and diabetes are significantly higher than most of the rest of the county, leading Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to label Sun Valley "Ground Zero for the healthcare crisis in Los Angeles County."

The center will offer free and low-cost preventive care, acute- and chronic-disease management, dental care, mental health and adult and pediatric medicine. LAUSD provided the land for the center, the county supplied $7 million for construction, the Northeast Valley Health Corporation will provide comprehensive healthcare services and the UCLA Department of Family Medicine will offer expanded screening programs for the children and families of the community.

With 13 examining rooms, a pharmacy, lab, counseling offices and education and training rooms, the clinic will be the largest and most comprehensive schoolbased clinic in the United States. Those involved with the project have aspirations beyond Sun Valley. "We view what we are doing here as a model for similar partnerships to meet the healthcare needs of underserved communities elsewhere in the country," says Patrick T. Dowling, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine and a driving force behind the clinic. The clinic also will serve as a training site for UCLA medical students and an elective for UCLA family-medicine residents, helping them, through direct intervention in an underserved community, to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of communitybased healthcare delivery and access. In addition, Dr. Dowling observes, "We hope that the presence of our students and trainees on campus will inspire some Sun Valley students to consider a career in healthcare."

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