UCLA Health Specialists Dedicated to Ending Health Care Disparities

Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil
Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil

Recent events have underscored the breadth of racial and socioeconomic disparity in our communities. At UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine we are aware of these inequities and we realize all too well the role they sometimes play in the availability of proper health care.

By bringing health care out into the community, by identifying and studying the systemic problems and by focusing on much needed change, we are committed to being an ongoing part of the solution.

Here’s a look at just some of the work being conducted by UCLA Health and DGSOM doctors and researchers to bridge the divide in the U.S.

  • Health care for underserved populations: Mary Marfisee, MD, MPH, served as medical director of Care Harbor in downtown Los Angeles, in 2019, overseeing the work of about 350 health care providers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the UCLA School of Dentistry, the UCLA School of Nursing and the UCLA Stein Eye Institute. Care Harbor has provided much-needed health care for underserved populations for 11 years. Dr. Marfisee also is program director for the Department of Family Medicine’s Student Run Homeless Clinic.
  • Training the next generation of doctors: Arleen Brown, MD, PhD, has dedicated her career to improving health equity and has been a mentor to residents and students looking to end health disparities. In 2018, she received the General Internal Medicine Herbert W. Nickens Minority Health and Representation in Medicine Award for her dedication to improving health care among minority populations. Dr. Brown was a co-author of the study “Structural Interventions to Reduce and Eliminate Health Disparities,” published in 2019 in the American Journal of Public Health. Dr. Brown also was a co-principal investigator for a study examining the quality of diabetes care for patients in managed care, with a particular focus on racial, ethnic and language barriers.

The study was co-authored by UCLA Health’s Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, research collaborator at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research; Ninez Ponce, PhD, MPP, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research; Beth Glenn, PhD, professor of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health; Catherine Crespi, PhD, MS, professor-in-residence in biostatistics; Brennan Spiegel, MD, MSHS, professor-in-residence of Health Policy Management; and Roshan Bastani, PhD, director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity and the UCLA Center for Prevention Research.

  • Mental health and well-being: Psychiatrist and public health researcher Kenneth Wells was the 2018 recipient of the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health, presented by the National Academy of Medicine. The award honored Dr. Wells’ efforts to raise awareness about the importance of mental health care and to improve access to that care. Dr. Wells, director of the UCLA Health Services and Society center of the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, was acknowledged for his efforts to make mental health care available in underserved communities.
  • Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community: Allison Diamant, MD, MSHS, is part of the UCLA Health working group centered on improving provider education with regard to LGBTQ+ patients. Dr. Diamant conducts research within the LGBTQ+ community to analyze access to quality health care and risk for chronic conditions.

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