For 23 years, Cedars-Sinai COACH for Kids has offered free medical services to children and their families across Los Angeles. In that time, the program has logged more than 600,000 patient and educational visits. For the more than 26% of Angelenos living below the poverty line, COACH is often a welcome sight.
As part of the Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center, COACH (Community Outreach Assistance for Children’s Health) visits bring free health services to children whose families otherwise have little or no access to medical care. The program’s 2 mobile medical clinics visit low-income neighborhoods 4-5 days a week, providing vaccines, wellness checkups, vision tests, hearing tests, and more to children and parents.
The program’s mobile medical clinics visit low-income neighborhoods 4-5 days a week. Click To Tweet
“How do we fix this problem rather than be sad about it?”
At the helm is Program Director and nurse Michele Rigsby Pauley. In her 23 years with the team, she’s seen it all. Working first as a nurse practitioner and later as program director, Michele said she feels blessed to have helped bring healthcare to the doorsteps of families in need.
“I am very proud that I can be part of something that’s making a difference in the lives of people,” she says. “I am always thinking, ‘What more can I do?’ ‘How do we fix this problem rather than be sad about it?'”
Some families have been COACH patients off and on throughout its entire 23 years.
During a recent visit to the Pueblo del Rio Housing Development in South Los Angeles, a young mother showed up with her toddler. Michele remembered treating the woman when she was a little girl.
“Unfortunately, the cycle of poverty and limited access to healthcare services can affect one generation to the next,” Michele says. “She is one of many families who utilize the mobile unit when they are having challenges accessing health care through other resources. We are their safety net provider. They know us, trust us, and know they will get great care.”
In addition to healthcare, COACH also offers social services.
Michele recounts fondly the story of another COACH patient, Olga, who utilized those services. Olga was an early success story for the program. She was homeless with an infant when she found the mobile medical clinic. She came in for a checkup for her baby and through the ongoing services of COACH, she was able to get her life back on track. Today, Olga has a home and a career and speaks publicly about the importance of mobile medical clinics for the underserved and for those with limited access to healthcare.
“The need remains great”
“I feel so fortunate to have a dedicated team and Cedars-Sinai quality care that I can bring to neighborhoods that desperately need it,” Michele says. “Over time the neighborhoods may have changed but the need remains great, and Cedars-Sinai is committed to filling that need.”
This year, the COACH got a makeover. Featuring all new, state-of-the-art equipment and a colorful new look, the mobile medical units are ready for the next 23 years.
Check the COACH for Kids calendar to find out when the COACH is coming to your neighborhood.
COACH for Kids is just one of the ways Cedars-Sinai is working toward a healthier Los Angeles. Learn more about our community benefit programs.