By Gary Luster
For more than 35 years, the Venice Family Clinic has partnered with Gardena Senior Health Services coordinate non-diagnostic health assessments at annual health fairs in order to give seniors a snapshot of their current health situation.
“Many of the medical screenings are sponsored or performed by Bon Moxa Clinic, the Lions Club Inka Chapter, Providence,
Torrance Memorial Medical Center and IPA, Optum, Kovas-Frey Pharmacy, National University, SoCAL ROC, Pacific Health and Wellness, the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department, Fibroscan and many social service agencies,” said D. Brooke McIntyre, director of Outreach for Venice Family Clinic.
Some of the health services that Venice Family Clinic provides to seniors in Gardena include tests for anemia, blood glucose, blood pressure, bone density and cholesterol. The Clinic also offers COVID vaccines, flu shots, hearing and vision exams, medication reviews and medical consults.
“Most of the seniors who come to the senior health fairs are insured, but they may not have visited their health care provider recently,” McIntyre said. “Some may be seeking a medical home and others are healthy, but attend this event as a social outing as well as for the screenings and social service information.”
On average, the Venice Family Clinic services more than 170 seniors per health fair event, providing at least four different screenings per health fair event.
McIntyre, who has served the health needs of the South Bay community for the past 50 years, said providing health services to seniors can cost upwards of $4,000 which includes the cost of supplies, licensing, insurance, in-kind in-service provisions as well as time given by volunteers and health service providers.
Challenges in terms of providing health services to seniors are minimal when it comes to producing the annual health fair events, thanks to their partnership with the city of Gardena’s Senior Bureau, according to McIntyre.
“Challenges for the seniors attending may be faced with finding a medical home for the first time, transportation getting to and from their medical offices, language barriers, and trust in the medical care system,” she said.
Other challenges that are more general in nature, include hesitancy on the part of seniors to seek out medical care in addition to mobility and transportation issues that often hamper the ability of seniors to receive regular medical care.
Although the Clinic was unable to hold its annual senior health fair in 2020 due to COVID, they were able to host it in 2021 with safety precautions in place such as the requirement of masks and vaccinations for providers. The number of attendees was also reduced by offering two sessions for screening events for interested seniors.
“Our partnership with the Gardena Senior Citizens Bureau is strong and we work very well together,” McIntyre said. “This year they were very instrumental in bringing in many of the social services, such as access to mental health agencies and connections to health care enrollment to victim assistance programs through the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, homelessness and access to food markets. Together we cover many areas of need.”
As Director of Outreach, McIntyre coordinates health fairs for the cities of Gardena and Manhattan Beach once a year. She also attends other health fairs in addition to supervising volunteers and interns at South Bay locations, doing reproductive health presentations, and facilitating a competition for local high school students to raise awareness for World AIDS Day, which is recognized every year on Dec. 1.
On Nov. 1, 2021, Venice Family Clinic and South Bay Family Health Care officially become one organization, bringing comprehensive primary care and services to more than 40,000 patients including people currently with- out care from the Santa Monica Mountains through the South Bay.
“Seniors living in these times, do have access to reliable research and studies that show the benefits of quitting smoking, exercising regularly and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet,” McIntyre said. “Over the years I have found the seniors teach us some of their secrets to a healthy life and in turn we share our knowledge and give them encouragement and reassurance to maintain a healthy life. A win-win for all.”
McIntyre said that one of the things that seniors can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to always follow the recommendations of their health care providers, something that is especially important for those with a chronic medical condition.
Venice Family Clinic recommends trusted websites contain- ing factual information for seniors to visit on top of providing seniors with the Clinic’s own reviewed health education materials.
“At Venice Family Clinic, we believe that everyone deserves quality health care, regardless of their income, insurance or immigration status,” McIntyre said. “We deliver high quality, comprehensive medical care plus supportive programs and services that work together to help patients get healthy and stay that way.”
Venice Family Clinic is a leader in providing comprehensive, high-quality primary health care to people in need. Having recently merged with South Bay Family Health Care, the combined organization serves 45,000 patients through 17 locations in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Inglewood, Culver City, Redondo Beach, Carson, Gardena and Hawthorne plus two mobile clinics and an expansive street medicine program for people experiencing homelessness.
To make an appointment or for questions about the services or providers of Venice Family Clinic, please contact their call center Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 310-392-8636. You can also visit their website at venicefamilyclinic.org.