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UC’s nurse-run clinics deliver care to underserved

The University of California has ramped up its efforts to help address a nursing shortage, including establishing a nursing school at UC Davis and expanding nursing education classes at UC Irvine. Meanwhile, UC nurse practitioners serve on the front lines, delivering compassionate care to the community at three nurse-run clinics.

In January, UC Irvine opened Orange County’s first nurse-managed clinic at El Sol charter school in Santa Ana, an underserved, predominantly Latino community, supported by a $1.5 million federal grant.

″With nurse practitioners playing a greater role in primary care today, practices like this one are vitally important for delivering much-needed health care to underserved communities and for educating tomorrow’s nursing workforce,″ said clinic director Susanne Phillips, a UC Irvine associate clinical professor of nursing science.

UCLA’s Health Center at the Union Rescue Mission has provided primary health care services to the homeless and indigent on Skid Row since 1983. The clinic is an “invaluable resource” for the underserved communities of Greater Los Angeles, said UCLA School of Nursing Dean Courtney H. Lyder.

“The children and families we see have no place else to turn to for health care,” Lyder said. “Last year we had more than 8,000 patient visits, a large majority of whom were children suffering from chronic illnesses caused by an unstable home life or, in many cases, no home at all.”

For students, the clinic is “an amazing experience,” where they learn about the unique challenges of caring for vulnerable and ethnic populations, Lyder said. The students, he said, “get to witness firsthand the resilience of individuals who are overcoming hardships that most of us cannot even imagine.”

At Glide Health Services in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, UCSF nurse practitioners serve the city’s homeless and poor. The nurse-run clinic receives 13,000 visits a year, from acupuncture to behavioral health to diabetes. It’s a holistic approach, so patients who visit behavioral health also get checked to see if their blood pressure is normal and their vaccinations are up to date.

“Any door is the right door,” clinic manager Karen Hill said. “A lot of people here have felt marginalized by traditional medicine. We try to work together with the patient. My focus is completely community.”

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