A team of more than 200 UCLA health professionals helped staff a free health care clinic last week that provided vital basic medical services to approximately 3,000 uninsured and underserved people in Los Angeles. They were among the nearly 3,000 medical and general volunteers at Care Harbor's annual urban health clinic - held Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena just south of downtown Los Angeles - who provided more than 5,700 medical, dental and vision exams.
"To me it's part of the mission of being a physician to care for people," said Dr. Colin McCannel, a UCLA ophthalmologist. " It's part of what I should be doing so doing it makes me feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to." There were 16 volunteers from UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, who conducted eye exams, donated 10 free cataract surgeries and prescribed free eye glasses. UCLA's team also included seven doctors from family medicine, 17 general internists, and one physician from internal medicine/pediatrics, as well as some specialists and medical students. The Care Harbor clinic provides a wide range of services for people who lack the means to get medical care on a regular basis. The health professionals screened for diabetes and hypertension, administered immunizations, offered mental health counseling and provided teeth cleanings, among many other basic services. For those patients who had more severe problems or conditions that required longer term care, the volunteers provided referrals to followup services. The UCLA School of Dentistry staffed 10 dental chairs providing oral hygiene services for hundreds of patients.
"Service is part of the core missions and I want to take every opportunity I can to give back," said Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a professor in the school of dentistry. In addition to the doctors, UCLA volunteers included nearly 80 nurses from Ronald Reagan UCLA and Santa Monica medical centers; six clinical lab scientists and a pathologist from the department of pathology who interpreted the pap smears; and six nurse practitioners.