Saturday, September 8th turned out to be the beginning of one of those glorious late-summer weekends that people think of when California is mentioned. Instead of heading outdoors to enjoy the weather, a small group of nurses congregated at the Mommy Docs’ office near downtown L.A. to participate in a free women’s health clinic. They were selflessly volunteering their time, driven only by the desire to serve their community. The racially-eclectic group reflected the backgrounds of the women who would soon arrive: native Korean speakers, bi-lingual Latinas, African Americans, and Caucasians.
“I think the three of us decided to do the health fair because we know that there are women out there without access to a gynecologist, and we wanted to extend that sort of care to everybody,” Dr. Park said. The health fair, which ran between 11 AM and 2PM, offered free pap smears, mammograms, and blood pressure screenings, as well as diabetes and cholesterol screenings.
“Here…in downtown LA, there are a lot of patients who have been losing their insurance,” Dr. Hill said. “[They] just haven’t had access to these really simple medical procedures we can do.”
Part of any physician’s job is to promote preventative health care, and that’s what the health fair aimed to offer the women who came in. “Preventative health is where we actually detect disease in people who don’t have symptoms,” Dr. Bohn explained. “The earlier we find [a] disease the better prognosis and the better survival of the woman.”
The health fair offered procedures routine to women’s health care, but they are also things women end up delaying. “As
our patient population [has lost] their insurance over the last few years, we’ve had a number of patients that have had to leave our office,” Dr. Hill said. “[They] are sort of out there floating around hoping to find a place to do these [tests].”
Another reason women put off care isn’t because of lack of coverage, sometimes they’re just scared. “I think women fear going to gynecologists because…it’s really personal and you have to be in a physical position that’s not comfortable,” Dr. Park said after the fair. “Quite a few of the ladies I examined today had their eyes closed the whole time.”
“No matter how uncomfortable it feels,” she explained, “you still need to get yearly exams for the prevention.”
While holding the health fair worked for the Mommy Docs because their offices are closed on the weekend, there was an added benefit to the timing. “Sometimes [women will] come with their friends and they’ll…make a day out of it,” Dr. Hill said. “It really allows women to support each other and to get them to do these things that maybe they’ve been putting off for a long time.”