In 1992 Hughes Space and Communication Company (HSCC) approached the UCLA School of Medicine, now known as the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA, with a project in mind. Recognizing the importance of science and education, HSCC wanted to develop a partnership with the Lennox school district to promote preventative health care and education. In order to do so, they requested the help of DGSOM at UCLA, so that together they could offer health education opportunities to residents of the Lennox school district.
The Lennox school district was chosen due to its need of educational and health opportunities, but mostly for its growth potential. At the time, this area of Los Angeles was a point of entry for recent immigrants, primarily from Latin American countries. The area served as a transition area for immigrant families, where they lived for 5 to 6 years before moving to more established locations, once economic growth and stability were achieved. With a steady population growth, a need for a centralized health care center in the community became evident. Many families were afraid of seeking health care for fear of legal repercussions. As a result, emergency rooms were often used as the only source of primary care. In addition, teachers in the Lennox school district were worried about the students’ nutritional habits and vaccination statuses. In 1992 there were over 27,000 residents in the Lennox district that lacked a community clinic offering affordable health care to non-English monolingual-low income families. With this information in hand, the HSCC, the UCLA School of Medicine, and the Lennox school district sought to develop a self sustaining program of primary preventative health care. Now in its 20th year, the Lennox Community Clinic has a different name, but the same goal: creating a healthier Lennox.
The initiative for preventative health care had two aims: development of a need-based health care system and empowerment of the Lennox district through community education programs. As such, the Lennox Community Health Clinic and bilingual Lennox Public Health Coordinator positions were born. The coordinators worked throughout the year, organizing professional volunteers to educate parents, students, and teachers on preventative health measures, while highlighting the resources available to the community. Monthly workshops addressing wellness and preventative health care were developed for parents and residents of the Lennox district.
On June 12, 1993, more than 100 volunteers, teachers, parents, physicians, and medical students worked together to organize the first Lennox Community Health Clinic. More than 230 adults and children were seen for health related issues. Of those seen, 101 individuals were referred for management of newly diagnosed chronic illnesses. Besides being evaluated by physicians, the children of the Lennox school district were introduced to new possibilities. To children of recent immigrants, medical students in white coats became a symbol of hope for the future; a glimpse into a profession they might one day be apart of, so that they too could help their community. Dr. Earl Homsher, co-organizer of the first Lennox Community Health Clinic, remembers that teacher involvement made the health fair a much greater success. “They put a lot of soul and heart into the community” he says. He also recalls teachers sharing with him that after these activities children wrote and drew about wanting to become doctors and scientists when they grew up after having spent time with the UCLA medical students and physicians. The seed of science had been successfully planted in the children. With the aid of Buford Elementary School Principal, Tom Johnstone, teachers and parents rallied together and empowered their community. The project was truly developing into a successful partnership; a collaboration between different organizations with a common passion. The growth of this symbiotic relationship allows medical students a unique opportunity to work with underserved populations and learn about cultural competency while reinforcing the medical education gathered throughout the year.
The Lennox Community Health Clinic, now known as the Lennox Health Fair, continues its efforts to bring health care access to everyone in need. In its 20 years, the Lennox crew has seen somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 patients. Medical students, undergraduate volunteers, teachers, and physicians still work together to bring local health partners to the residents of the Lennox district. The growth of this symbiotic relationship allows medical students a unique opportunity to work with underserved populations and learn about cultural competency while reinforcing the medical education gathered throughout the year. Just as they did in 1993, the types of services offered include dental and vision check-ups, nutritional and health education, immunizations, and physical examinations. Equally important, the Lennox Health Fair acts as an initial connection between community health providers and residents. After the health fair, a referral system gives individuals the opportunity to continue to develop these relationships.
Currently students from the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA act as the primary organizers of the Lennox Health Fair. The biannual health fair works with the Lennox school district to serve the needs of the students, families, and area residents. With continual staff and faculty support, LMSA members work tirelessly alongside the Lennox school district to create a healthier Lennox.
LMSA – November 3, 2012 @ LENNOX Middle School
On March 17th 2012, through pouring rain, volunteer medical students, physicians and faculty, and community partners, provided medical care and health education to a most needed community.
LMSA – March 17, 2012 @ LENNOX Middle School