Several student-run homeless clinics are held by students and attendings from David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, each serving a distinct patient population. Clinics are normally scheduled on Saturday mornings, and Monday and Thursday evenings, and these run all year-round, rain or shine.
Each clinic is coordinated by two medical student chiefs responsible for triaging patients, coordinating clinic volunteers, and assisting with medications and supplies. First and second year medical students are paired up with 3rd or 4th year students to take patient histories and conduct physical exams. Students then present their patients to a resident (if available) and attending physician. An educational session on a topic pertinent to the homeless patient population is given either prior to the start of clinic or at the end.
Students encounter a variety of acute and chronic diseases and these will vary, particularly among the different clinic locations. The most common problems we deal with include upper respiratory infections, skin infections, hypertension, asthma, and mental health issues.
Sign up occurs during the Fall Student Organization Fair or you may contact the Director of Operations Chief.
All students must attend an orientation session in September, as well as a mid-year (January) and end-of-year (May) reflection. Students enrolled in the selective must attend a minimum of 6 clinics, while those enrolled in the elective must attend a minimum of 7 clinics. In addition, students obtaining elective credit must conduct one educational activity, such as teaching first/second year students on-site or providing a health-related lecture to students or clinic residents.
You may volunteer at any time, but priority is given to students enrolled in the selective/elective. Due to the popularity of the selective and limited number of seats, we advise students to sign up only if committed to this year-long experience. Students are chosen based on a lottery system. The Student Affairs Office will send out information on the selective enrollment process in August or September. If you are not able to get in the selective, but would still like to volunteer, please contact our Director of Operations Chief. Most students attend the required number of clinics for the selective/elective, but there is no limit to the number of clinics you may attend. We encourage you to volunteer as much as possible to ensure patient continuity.
Students at all levels will benefit from the clinical experience. We aim to pair 1st/2nd year students with 3 rd/4 th year students to provide guidance in taking patient histories and conducting physical exams. The first/second year student will then present to a resident and/or attending who will provide teaching points while helping the student develop an appropriate assessment and plan for the patient.
Santa Monica Shelter (Samoshel)
The Samoshel clinic focuses on providing free health care services to the adult homeless population by offering general physicals, basic primary care treatment, and preventive health services. Based on screening evaluations and physical exams, patients are provided on-site services and also referred to appropriate facilities for additional testing, imaging, and treatment.
The Samoshel homeless shelter became a part of the OPCC (formerly Ocean Park Community Center) in September 2005. It was established in 1994 by the Salvation Army to provide homeless men and women an alternative to living on the streets and to help them obtain jobs and permanent housing. Shelter services include on-site case management, counseling, 12-step meetings, housing referrals and employment assistance.
As Samoshel provides emergency and transitional housing for 110 homeless adults, a steady stream of patients and a variety of medical concerns are serviced at the Samoshel clinic with common symptoms ranging from upper respiratory infections to dermatologic complaints. Samoshel clinic runs from 9 am to noon on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the each month year-round. It is located on 505 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Pathways to Home Emergency Shelter
Previous known as "New Image" when SRHC first began serving this shelter in 2011, the Pathways to Home Emergency Shelter is the largest site of our clinics, offering shelters and case management asisstance for men, women, and pregnant women up to the 4th month. At this clinic, often regarded as the size of a football field, medical students form part of an interdisciplinary team, often working alongside nursing students from UCLA School of Nursing, to practice a team-oriented approach while providing health care to this indigent population.
The Pathway to Home Clinic has now become a year-long addition to SRHC, and runs on the 4th Thursday of every month from 6 pm to 9 pm. It is located on 3804 Broadways Place, Los Angeles, CA 90037.
The winter shelters are organized by various agencies that are coordinated and managed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. The shelters provide housing for up to 175 people along with meals, showers, cots, and social services. The large size of the shelters allows students to experience the full spectrum of illnesses affecting a diverse patient population. The Winter shelters are also home to our psychiatric component of patient care, offering care when specialized attendings are on site.
The West LA Winter Shelter Clinics run from 6 pm to 9 pm every Monday during cold weather months of December through March. It is located in the West LA Armory site on 1300 Federal Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025.