UCLA Health staff pack hygiene kits for use by Homeless Healthcare Collaborative

Essential items are effective icebreaker during outreach.
Volunteers assemble hygiene kits at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, in support of the Homeless Healthcare Collaborative.
Volunteers assemble hygiene kits at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, in support of the Homeless Healthcare Collaborative. (Photo by Robert Hernandez)
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UCLA Health staff volunteers packed 2,500 personal hygiene kits for the Homeless Healthcare Collaborative to distribute while conducting outreach at encampments, shelters and other locations across Los Angeles. 

The kits – packed Dec. 13 at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center – contain such items as shampoo, body wash, bar soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as antiperspirant deodorant, socks, body wipes and a rain poncho. 

“These essential items serve as a great icebreaker during our outreach,” said Brian Zunner-Keating, MS, RN, director of the UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative. ”Offering a hygiene kit right off the bat goes a long way to starting a relationship.”

The program – which marks its second anniversary in January 2024 – deploys specially trained clinical teams in four mobile health vans including doctors, nurses and social workers. They provide free primary and urgent medical care, screenings, behavioral care and social service referrals to those experiencing homelessness in multiple Los Angeles neighborhoods. 

Group photo from volunteer hygiene kit assembly event at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center
Group photo of volunteer hygiene kit assembly event at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, from left: Leandra Gracia, RN; Brian Zunner-Keating, MS, RN, director of the UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative; Bianca Perez, administrative analyst; Matt Flesock, director of strategy and operations for the Office of Community at UCLA Health; Candice Grey, RN; Nancy Vega, RN; and Cesar Barrios, team safety.

Earlier this year, the Homeless Healthcare Collaborative received a $25.3 million state grant to expand access and enhance coordination with various public agencies and social service groups. 

This year, from January to November, the team:  

  • Recorded more than 11,600 patient encounters
  • Provided more than 4,200 medical evaluations
  • Dispensed more than 4,800 medications

Zunner-Keating said UCLA staff reach out regularly, seeking to contribute to the collaborative’s efforts.

One of those volunteering to help pack hygiene kits was Lavita Boyd, a clinical lab senior supervisor with pathology and laboratory medicine.

“I’m grateful to UCLA for the opportunities like this, to meet my long-time goal of giving back to those less fortunate and supporting our communities,” Boyd said. She also helps train collaborative team members in use of lab instrumentation in the mobile vans.