Care Harbor Provides Free Health Care to Thousands

Volunteer dentists at Care Harbor on October 13, 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

An estimated 3,000 people received medical, dental, vision and preventive care – all for free – at this year’s Care Harbor mega health clinic.

Over three days, thousands of volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists and other healthcare professionals provided primary and specialty care, immunizations, screenings, eye exams, dental extractions, Type 2 Diabetes management and prevention, and many other health services at The Reef in downtown Los Angeles.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at Care Harbor 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“We’re here today because, despite all the progress we’ve made, there are still too many people who slip through the cracks and go without medical treatment,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Together, we’re all committed to providing a healthcare safety net that’s robust and responsive to the needs of our most vulnerable communities.”

“With the help of our generous partners, Care Harbor offers a wide range of health services at no cost for people who lack access to the care that they need,” said Don Manelli, founder and president of Care Harbor, a nonprofit organization that works with volunteer healthcare professionals and community resources to organize large-scale free urban health clinics for uninsured and medically underserved populations. “In addition to medical, dental and vision care, we’re providing preventive care, mental health counseling and referrals, social and legal services,” Manelli added.

Optometrist performs vision test. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“Care Harbor offers an excellent opportunity for residents with unmet healthcare needs to access the healthcare and prevention education resources necessary to thrive,” added County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. “Thanks to the tremendous leadership of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the partnership of committed community partners, Los Angeles County can participate in Care Harbor and help meet the medical, dental, vision and prevention care needs of our most vulnerable residents.”

“Each year, the Care Harbor clinic shows the unfortunate magnitude of the uninsured in Los Angeles County and the tremendous unmet need for basic medical, dental and vision care despite coverage gains,” County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said. “When individuals, especially those with chronic illnesses, avoid medical care because of the high cost or because they do not have access to a regular provider, they place their health and the health of their families in jeopardy. The County Health Services Department is proud to be an annual Care Harbor event sponsor and build healthier communities by linking participants to ongoing, affordable care within our County-run health system.”

Volunteer physician serves a patient at Care Harbor 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“Care Harbor, made possible through the work of hundreds of clinicians, staff and dedicated volunteers in service to our County’s most vulnerable residents, is a grassroots approach to the fundamental need for integrated health care,” County Mental Health Director Dr. Jonathan Sherin said. “Through this effort, and follow-up visits to local clinics throughout the County, clients are receiving vital services for their physical and mental health, with a focus on how to maintain good health and achieve wellbeing.”

“L.A. Care and Care Harbor share a common desire to serve the most vulnerable communities in Los Angeles County and help residents live healthier lives,” said L.A. Care Health Plan Deputy Chief Medical Officer Alex Li. “As a physician who has volunteered at this event, I am always inspired by the incredible spirit of all of the volunteers.”