MORE THAN 70 UCLA HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS were among the physicians, nurses, dentists and other medical professionals, who offered their services to indigent and underinsured patients during a four-day free clinic in October 2011 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Among the many services provided to the some 1,200 patients seen each day were mammograms, cancer screenings and eye care, including surgery in some cases.
"We saw so many people whose vision has been blurry for years," says Faye Oelrich, program manager of the UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic. "One of our most touching cases was a young woman who has had a crossed eye since childhood, which you could tell she was very self-conscious about. She came to tears when we told her we could correct her eye with free surgery."
The clinic was sponsored by CareNow, an organization focused on providing healthcare to uninsured and underinsured urban communities. About 23 percent of Los Angeles County residents have no health insurance, according to CareNow.
"I had another woman who has needed cataract surgery for years," Oelrich recalls. "She wouldn't have been able to pass the eye exam at the DMV, even with glasses, but she can't afford surgery. She didn't speak much English but broke down sobbing when she understood we would give her the surgery and said, 'I'm crying because I'm so happy.'"
UCLA cardiologist Ravi Dave, M.D. spent his day helping patients like Edmund Dominguez, a 53-year-old whose blood pressure was so high, Dr. Dave cautioned him it was only a matter of time before he had a stroke if he didn't take medication.
Treating patients in such serious need of care makes Dr. Dave feel that he's contributing significantly to the broader community. "It is special because we get to help the people who need help the most," he says.
To watch a video about the CareNow/L.A. clinic, go to: www.uclahealth.org/carenow