To see well is to live well.
UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic (UMEC)
It is challenging to fill out applications or navigate the streets without being able to see, which the UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic proposes to remedy for people experiencing homelessness in L.A.
What does your organization do?
We provide free eye care to underserved communities and vulnerable populations in L.A. who lack access to vision care as a result of financial, transportation, and/or cultural and language barriers.
Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.
In partnership with the MCP, UMEC seeks to activate the people of LA to improve eye care access, change eye health behavior, and provide individuals experiencing homelessness the opportunity to see well so they can start to live well. Many of the homeless individuals that UMEC-MCP have seen are middle-aged adults, which is when almost everyone needs a pair of reading glasses. This simple solution will allow them to fill out job applications, read medication labels, or create detailed drawings!
Which of the live metrics will your activation impact?
- Healthcare access
- Residents receiving coordinated healthcare services
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?
- Trainings and/or in-person engagements
- Influence individual behavior
- Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
- Increase donations to organizations and causes
Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to live?
At a UMEC summer library clinic in 2015, one of the homeless patients to whom we had given free eyeglasses reported back excitedly that because of his new eyeglasses, he could fill out job applications. As a result, he was able to get a full-time job in the education field and was no longer homeless.
What a great impact!
By giving those who are experiencing homelessness in L.A. the ability to see well, we give them the opportunity to start to live well. MCP and UMEC services go where individuals live and work, which improves access to our free care. In fact, 81.3% of clients report that the UMEC-MCP Night Clinic improved their access to other healthcare resources in L.A. In addition, UMEC provides educational packets to give patients more information about their eye conditions and available resources they can utilize. We have found that 69% of patients we examine have a treatable eye condition and that over 90% of them need eyeglasses. Those 69% were treated for refractive error, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, pinguecula, pterygium, and cataracts and were provided access to ophthalmic care at UCLA Olive View and Harbor County hospitals which alleviates strain on emergency rooms. An estimated 18 billion dollars could be saved annually if “non-urgent” clinical problems such as correcting refractive error with glasses were treated outside of the emergency room through programs like the UMEC-MCP Night Clinic.
Satisfaction in our services is as high as 86.9% of clients that prefer our clinic to other free clinics in the L.A. area and 89.6% that prefer the Night Clinic to a hospital emergency department for non-emergency care. Thus, our services have an incredible impact on the quality of life for those experiencing homelessness in L.A.
In addition, our services will improve the understanding of the demographics and eye health problems of L.A.’s homeless populations, as knowledge of these is scarce. The last study addressing ocular disorders among the homeless in L.A. was published decades ago in 1990. Not only will our findings improve our clinics, but it may also guide future organizations to address the vision health needs of the L.A. homeless population. We share LA2050’s goal to ensure that 100 percent of L.A. residents have access to affordable healthcare services, including vision care.
This project also engages Angelenos to understand the health care equality issues in their communities and help people experiencing homelessness in L.A. To engage more Angelenos, we will advertise our free eye care to undertreated patients who visit MCP’s multiple clinic sites and use the Night Clinic’s services. In one study (in Hawaii), 49% of the homeless did not know where to go to seek eye care and 68% did not know where to go to obtain eyeglasses. By reaching out to the homeless in the areas we serve, we can reduce these statistics and offer our health services to more people.
How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to live
To address the lack of understanding of the demographics and health problems of L.A.’s homeless populations, we will collect data and give follow-up patient questionnaires. Our findings and evaluations will contribute to addressing the vision health needs of L.A. By providing pro-bono vision care to the homeless, we will engage three different groups of Angelenos:
- People experiencing homelessness in L.A.
With our mobile eye exam unit and dedicated staff, UMEC has the advantage to mobilize our clinic to areas where the needs are greatest in the L.A. community. This will also increase awareness and accessibility of vision care for the homeless.
- Individuals working with people experiencing homelessness in L.A.
It is crucial that individuals and organizations that work to provide services for people experiencing homelessness are aware of the great need for access to vision care and education on vision health. To help this group of Angelenos working with the homeless understand the extent and details of this health concern, UMEC & MCP will share our evaluations and data findings from our screenings, exams, and questionnaires.
- UCLA Health Community and Students
Recruit and employ highly motivated and dedicated undergraduate/graduate students with an interest in the field of medicine and public health through an interview and thorough training process. By activating these communities, we can expand our efforts to affect more people with the UMEC-MCP services offered.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.
Success is defined as the reduction of visual impairment in people experiencing homelessness in L.A. It will be measured by the number of free eye exams and eyeglasses that will be provided. Our goal with the funding is to examine 500 homeless individuals and to provide 450 free eyeglasses to these individuals. We hope to have a follow-up questionnaire on how the new eyeglasses have helped facilitate the daily activities of these individuals.
UMEC has also been looking into various strategic tools to evaluate the program effectively. UMEC’s goal with a USC professor, is to conduct a Social Return of Investment Analysis (SROI) to leverage the impact of the Night Clinics. SROI is a process for understanding, measuring, and reporting on the social, environmental, and economic value created by the UMEC program. Evaluating programs properly will lead to the following impacts: more informed decision-making, ability to strike a balance between investments, and determining the best value for the budget. SROI will help guide internal performance management, attract funding, and lead to stronger relationships with stakeholders. This tool encourages accountability, transparency, and sustainability in decision-making. This tactic places stakeholders at the center of the process, including beneficiaries of aid whose voices are often ignored in the evaluation process. From this inclusive process, more Angelenos will become engaged with the planning and executing of the night clinics.
Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?
In five years, UMEC hopes increase the frequency and locations of the MCP-UMEC Night Clinics and their locations to ensure that more people in L.A. County have adequate access to high-quality eye and health care. In order to reach this goal we plan to increase the frequency of the Night Clinics in Hollywood and Santa Monica. LA2050 would be a terrific catalyst for MCP to launch their new Santa Monica clinic and for UMEC to begin providing services there as well. This is an important endeavor as Santa Monica’s homeless population is growing.
Furthermore, it is our goal to spend the next five years strengthening the long-standing partnership with the MCP. To achieve this goal, UMEC would like to host more regular planning and evaluation meetings to nurture this collaboration with the MCP. Outside community, members and advisors will be invited to these meetings so that all stakeholders are consulted. The LA2050 grant will help support these endeavors to sustain and even expand the frequency of the Night Clinics and their locations to help people experiencing homelessness in L.A.
Over the next five years, UMEC-MCP will collect data at these clinics and will utilize them for patient evaluations and studies. These evaluations will allow UMEC, MCP, and other organizations to tailor health services to best fit the needs of the L.A. homeless population. UMEC-MCP will also use the data for research purposes. The research conducted from this project may have the power to influence public policy and determine the best way to deliver care to the under-served population in the L.A. area.
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