By Eva Brune, California Community Foundation
Earlier this month, CCF 2013 Unsung Hero Don Manelli and the Care Harbor team took over the Los Angeles Sports Arena and turned it into a clinic to deliver much-needed health services to close to 4,000 underserved and uninsured Angelenos. The preliminary data on the breakdown of services provided was impressive; the group delivered 2,730 medical procedures, 1,760 dental procedures and 1,293 vision procedures in just four days. Data is still being gathered on immunizations, women’s health screenings and preventive dentistry treatments provided at the event.
Perhaps more important than the number of procedures was the effort by the Care Harbor team to direct Angelenos to free or low-cost health care and coverage solutions as part of the overall health strategy at the clinic. Affordable Care Act education and enrollment specialists were on hand to help patients access the best coverage based on a series of 5- 6 key questions. More than 1,300 patients received consultations and 300 were enrolled in either Medi-Cal, CalFresh or Covered CA on the spot.
Also on hand were representatives from more than fifty community clinics. For patients who received diabetes, hypertension or other chronic or ongoing diagnoses, follow-up appointments were made with community clinics in their neighborhoods.
With a sophisticated wrist band system in place, patients did not experience the chaos and excruciating waits that are sometimes a part of emergency room care. For the patients who had short waits, the time was filled with educational opportunities. Patient education and consultations about dental hygiene, disaster preparedness, care-giver support and stress reduction were presented to the captive audiences. Some 40 organizations provided prevention education resources.
According to Manelli, the idea of Care Harbor is to make a permanent change, ”This is not a glorified emergency room. While we do have the best physicians, dentists and all around care thanks to our volunteers, we are looking to provide people with preventative care and connect them to the coverage that they need to make that care sustainable.”
For many underserved Angelenos, finding healthcare solutions is overwhelming but Manelli sees Care Harbor as an opportunity to empower people, “Here people can take control of their health. We have simplified the insurance process, provide top notch care, but more importantly, we created an atmosphere of trust so that our patients feel comfortable coming in, getting the immediate care they need and then moving on to take care of themselves through follow-ups and preventive care.”
Care Harbor volunteer and representative of the Tzu Chi Buddhist Medical Foundation, Dr. Eugene Taw, skipped his organization’s twentieth anniversary to staff his organization’s mobile vision clinic and shared his view of the event, “I have found there is a good heart in America. Care Harbor is an example of that.”
Planning for the 2014 Care Harbor event is already underway. While the group feels it may have outgrown the Sports Arena, the main effort is to shore up the organization to be able to sustainably deliver effective care while continuing to refine the model. Other cities have already expressed an interest in hosting similar events while local partners are offering pro-bono services from designing innovative patient-tracking aps to promoting the event. The need for health care and education is great in Los Angeles, but innovative models such as Care Harbor are helping to define high-impact solutions.
If you would like more information about Care Harbor, please click here.
To read more about Don Manelli, please click here.