UCLA School of Nursing Receives Ahmanson Foundation Grant to Support Care of Homeless Children at Los Angeles Union Rescue Mission

Grant will Provide for After-Hours Pediatric Nursing at One of the Oldest and Largest Nurse-Managed Facilities of its Kind in the United States

(LOS ANGELES – July 19, 2011) – The UCLA School of Nursing has received a grant from the Ahmanson Foundation to provide after-hours pediatric nursing services for sheltered families at the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles and their off-site transitional housing center, Hope Gardens, in Sylmar, CA.

The UCLA School of Nursing Health Center at the Union Rescue Mission is one of the oldest and largest nurse-managed facilities of its kind in the United States and is the only shelter-based health clinic in the city that provides healthcare for homeless families with children. It was founded by the School of Nursing in 1983 and is staffed by full-time nurse practitioners and one physician as well as UCLA nursing and medical students.

"The grant from the Ahmanson Foundation will allow for the expansion of much-needed after-hours care, parenting instruction and rapid assessments of the increasing number of homeless families," said Dr. Courtney Lyder, dean of the UCLA School of Nursing. "Their generosity will help make sure that we have the equipment, supplies and technology necessary to serve this growing population."

According to Mary Marfisee, M.D., MPH, medical director of the Health Center and principal author of the Grant, there has been a fourfold increase in homeless women and children in the clinic in the past two years. 

"These families arrive at the clinic doors with complex medical issues reflecting years of lack of adequate medical care, social neglect and isolation, impacting every aspect of child development," said Marfisee. "This gift from the Ahmanson Foundation is the stepping stone to getting whole lives back on track."

Research from the Campaign to End Child Homelessness shows that homeless children have very high rates of acute illness. More than one in seven homeless children has moderate to severe health conditions, in particular asthma. In comparison, less than one in 16 middle-class children report these health conditions. And because homeless individuals are less likely to have health insurance or regular providers, they often turn to costly emergency rooms for care.

Funded through grants, donations and the UCLA School of Nursing itself, the Health Center is licensed by the state as a community clinic and is devoted to caring for the acute and chronic primary medical needs of homeless adults, children and the elderly. Last year the clinic provided comprehensive medical services through more than 8,600 patient visits. Health education, case management, medications, diagnostic services and preventive healthcare services are also provided.

The UCLA School of Nursing is redefining nursing through the pursuit of uncompromised excellence in research, education, practice, policy and patient advocacy. Ranked among the top nursing schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report, the school also is ranked No. 7 in nursing research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and No.1 in NIH stimulus funding. In 2009-2010, the school received $18 million in total research grant funding and was awarded 26 faculty research grants. The school offers programs for the undergraduate (BS), postgraduate (MSN and MECN) and doctoral (Ph.D.) student. For more information, visit the website at www.nursing.ucla.edu.