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Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard Parks, whose district includes the historical Leimert Park area of Central Los Angeles, recently brought a host of free medical services, information and screenings to the park itself.
With three mobile health services vehicles staffed with nurses, health care professionals, and others, as well as dozens of exhibitors offering everything from AIDS/HIV and blood pressure testing, diabetes screening, eye examinations, in-home care services, and other preventative testing and health-related medical screening and services, the park, which is often a resting spot for the area’s homeless and drug users, was transformed into what looked like a medical encampment.
“Leimert Park is a well-known spot for drug use by some of the homeless people in the community,” Debbie Beavers, Parks’ district director said. “Councilmember Parks is aware that many people are without health care and he wanted to bring a range of health services and other information that will help identify potential health issues to the community.”
Beavers noted that in addition to the local health providers, one of the highlights of last week’s event was the appearance of television personality Montel Williams’ Climb-Aboard Health Bus which is traveling across the United States offering free prescriptions, medicine, and other health-related services.
The Brotherhood Crusade, with its long and established record and history of offering health services and related information to the community was on-hand to provide information about Hepatitis C, the small virus spread through blood-to-blood contact and interferes with normal liver cell activity that may eventually prevent it from working properly.
“Preventing Hepatitis C may be accomplished if there is no blood-to-blood contact,” Brotherhood staff member Maybelline Saintjulien. Julian said. “This doesn’t mean just touching someone else’s blood. It means that someone else’s blood has to get into your bloodstream.”
There are number of ways this may occur including; using unsafe injection techniques for shooting drugs, steroids and hormones, using improperly sterilized needles and ink during tattooing, and using condoms, dental dams and latex gloves which reduces the risk of sexual transmission, to name a few.
The Charles R, Drew University of Medicine and Science had their mobile HIV/AIDS van at Leimert Park to conduct aids testing as well as testing and information about other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) including the most common STD’s: gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. They were joined by AIDS Project Los Angeles and the Magic Johnson AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Craig Summers, consultant with the Los Angeles Care Health Plan’s Community Health Education Center was on hand to provide information to individuals without healthcare.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness, was present and offered family and consumer peer education and support, public education information and advocacy on behalf of people living with mental illness.
In addition, the County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services and Department of Aging provided exhibitors who offered a broad range of information concerning the services that are available from the County.
At the intersection of 43rd and Degnan, in the heart of Leimert Park, Beavers summarized the purpose of Parks’ health fair. “We hope the health service Councilmember Parks has brought to the community will be used by the many addicts, homeless citizens and others who use the park on a regular basis.”