SEPTEMBER 2009

COVER STORY
 
Denise Garvey, M.D.

UCLA Physician Helps Students
Deliver Care to the Homeless

For Denise Garvey, M.D., UCLA internist/ pediatrician practicing in the Brentwood office of the UCLA Community Network, extending patient care beyond the walls of her medical office to help traditionally under-served populations has always been important. When UCLA students in medicine and public health needed a medical director nearly 10 years ago to launch the Mobile Clinic Project at UCLA – a student-run initiative that provides primary care and social services to the homeless in Los Angeles – Dr. Garvey volunteered her time and expertise.

“I had dealt with under-served patient populations earlier in my life, and I also had first-hand experience with family and friends who had been homeless,” says Dr. Garvey, who credits the students with obtaining necessary resources and laying the groundwork for the project. As medical director for the project, Dr. Garvey oversees clinical care, assists with grant applications to fund the project and guides students in making management decisions.

Through the project, homeless clients can receive services including acute care, basic check-ups, preventive care, health education and resource information and referrals. In addition, they may also receive assistance with legal, employment and housing needs as well as mental health, substance abuse and gender-based violence issues. Services are currently provided in a mobile unit that regularly visits the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition and a homeless shelter in Santa Monica.

“Location and consistency are key variables in providing access to the homeless population because they are usually unable to travel great distances to get medical care,” says Dr. Garvey. “A key benefit of this project and others like it is that they provide care to underserved clients before their health problems spiral out of control. They also help to relieve pressure on over-burdened emergency departments in Los Angeles.” Nearly one-third of our clients continue to return to the mobile clinic for care, demonstrating the project’s hard-earned success.

The clinical staff now includes more than 30 attending UCLA-affiliated physicians, in addition to UCLA medical students and residents and Kaiser Permanente physicians and residents.

For more information, call (310) 825-4600 or e-mail mobileclinic@ucla.edu