For Gilda McKoy, the Care Harbor health clinic at the L.A. Sports Arena was a godsend. The 58-year-old was experiencing pain in her knees, and it had been quite some time since her last blood pressure check and pap smear. Lacking medical insurance, she had been praying for help when she heard about the annual clinic, where she celebrated her birthday on Sept. 28 by receiving a free health exam. McKoy was one of nearly 3,800 patients who lined up for health care services provided by a small army of volunteer health care professionals - including nearly 200 volunteers from the UCLA Health and the schools of dentistry and nursing. Organized by Care Harbor in collaboration with L.A. Care Health Plan and Dignity Health, and co-sponsored by the UCLA Health, the Sept. 27-30 clinic provided free medical, dental and vision services for those who are uninsured or otherwise can't afford proper health care. "God is really working when you pray," said an appreciative McKoy. "God is good, and these people who are doing this, may God bless them."
The UCLA volunteers provided on-the-spot treatment for a wide variety of ailments and, in some cases, gave referrals for followup care.
"I think it's a very important part of life to give back," Coleman said. "I've been given a lot and it's nice to see how engaged UCLA is in community outreach." Professor of Dentistry Dr. Edmond Hewlett, who organized the School of Dentistry's contingent, remarked on the huge volume of patients that his group treated - halfway through the first day, they had already seen 50 patients - and the severity of their problems. Many patients suffered from severe tooth decay and infections that, Hewlett noted, can be related to diabetes, heart problems and other health conditions. And although he was pleased to see the dental school team perform hundreds of cleanings, fillings and extractions and even make temporary dentures to replace front teeth, it still wasn't enough, he said.
"This clinic is needed because all these people don't know where else to go for health care," Tarn said. "If anything, this helps people know where the resources are." UCLA's volunteers also reported benefiting from the clinic. Among them was Juan Cabrales, who recently completed the UCLA International Medical Graduates (IMG) program, which prepares bilingual medical school graduates from Central and South America to compete for family residency training programs in California and, eventually, work in underserved communities. While he's not yet licensed to practice medicine, Cabrales worked at the clinic with Dr. Michelle Bholat, professor of family medicine and executive director of IMG, as a Spanish-language interpreter and helping to obtain patients' medical histories. The experience, he said, was a valuable opportunity to work with the kinds of patients he will eventually serve as a physician.
Jules Stein Eye Clinic came fully equipped with its mobile vehicle.
Due to the fires and evacuations in portions of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, UCLA Health has closed clinics in Westlake Village, Malibu and Thousand Oaks. Other clinics and our medical centers remain open.