ears stream down 5-year-old Madison’s face as she looks up at Marta Pavlicek, RN, a Cedars-Sinai nurse who has just given her a shot.
“I don’t want anymore,” Madison says. Her mother has brought her to Cedars-Sinai’s COACH for Kids and Their Families® mobile medical unit for several childhood vaccines.
Two more shots to go. “I’ll be very gentle,” Marta says. Then she asks, “Do you know the alphabet? Can you sing it for me?”
Madison brightens a bit and begins to sing softly. Before she gets through the alphabet, Marta ﬁnishes and asks for a hug. A big squeeze and
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then Madison is on her way, smiling with a new coloring book and pencil in hand.
Next comes a 5-year-old boy who also ends up in tears, but walks away wearing a band-aid on his arm like a badge of honor. Then Marta counsels a woman who has high blood pressure, advising her to take her medication properly, cut down on salt and caffeine, and exercise regularly.
It’s all part of a typical day’s work. “I love what I do,” says Marta, a native of Argentina who speaks Spanish with many of her patients.
“I especially love to work with children — they keep me young.”
The COACH program, part of Cedars-Sinai’s Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center, has been providing free medical care to children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 1994. Two fully equipped mobile medical units regularly visit schools and other community sites to provide preventive care such as immunizations and screenings, as well as diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and referrals to affordable health services.
Marta, who joined Cedars-Sinai in 1971 and COACH more than a decade ago, is saddened by the poverty she sees as the mobile medical unit makes its rounds. “We do what we can, and people are very grateful,” she says.
aMont Harrington grew up in a house in South Los Angeles where his parents still live after nearly 50 years. His deep roots in this community make his job especially satisfying.
As the driver of a COACH for Kids and Their Families® mobile medical unit, he brings a team of Cedars-Sinai medical professionals and social workers into South Los Angeles neighborhoods, among other areas, to provide health information and services.
LaMont is like the runner on a movie set. He does whatever is needed to ensure that everything goes smoothly, from maintaining the 38-foot medical unit to escorting patients up the steps, taking their blood pressure and giving vision and hearing tests.
He particularly enjoys seeing children benefit from services they might go without if COACH didn’t visit their neighborhood. “Some parents cry because they’re so grateful for what we do for their kids.”
edars-Sinai’s two fully equipped mobile medical units, staffed by healthcare professionals from the hospital, deliver a wide range of services at no cost to some of Los Angeles County’s neediest neighborhoods.
The units — provided by the COACH for Kids and Their Families® program — make regular stops at schools, homeless shelters and other community sites in areas including Crenshaw/ Mid-City, Pico-Union, Downtown/ Skid Row and Hollywood/West Hollywood.
Since its inception in 1994, the COACH program has provided more than 250,000 healthcare visits to more than 100,000 children and their
families — most of whom live below the federal poverty level.
Over the years, the program has expanded from medical services to include assistance from social workers, parent education, counseling and crisis intervention, dental care, nutrition education, children’s play groups in homeless shelters and housing referrals.