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Kerry's Kids Moves Ahead in 2003
by Laurie Ann Bostick, M.D.

THE SPIRIT OF KERRY’S KIDS

In Dr. Kerry Spooner-Dean's pediatric residency application she quoted Richard Bach who said, "You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true." Kerry's wish was to provide free medical care to the children living in homeless shelters and battered women's refuges who are often alienated from the traditional health care system because of a lack of health insurance, resources and transportation. Ever since Kerry's Kids was established in May 1998, Kerry's spirit and her strong commitment to service have inspired dedicated volunteers to carry on her wish. Kerry’s spirit has continued to be a driving force in guiding Kerry's Kids to continue to provide essential services to the high-risk, under-served, uninsured children we serve.

This past year has certainly been no exception, as Kerry’s Kids has grown in many ways. We have improved our organizational structures, increased our volunteer participation and established community partnerships in an effort to provide increasingly better care to the children we serve. The initial changes began with improvements in our medical record organization and vaccine documentation along with improved organization of the mobile van itself. These changes helped to improve the efficiency of what was then a small but dedicated team of volunteer physicians. We began to see more extraordinary changes as we reached out to other like-minded organizations and began to expand our volunteer base and to make new connections and alliances in the community.

CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS

In addition to our core group of dedicated volunteer physicians, which has grown modestly over the course of the year, Kerry’s Kids has also welcomed a number of student and young professional volunteers. We have continued to have a strong volunteer commitment from the Pediatric Residents at The Children’s Hospital and Research Center at Oakland. In addition, we have recruited student volunteers from the University of California (UC) Berkeley through the FACES for the Future program as well as Physician Assistant students from Samuel Merritt College. We have developed an educational alliance with Samuel Merritt College Nurse Practitioner students. And we have worked with high school students participating in The Upward Bound Program at UC Berkeley. Together these groups of young physicians and students have brought a wonderful energy and enthusiasm to the over 270 children who have been served by Kerry’s Kids thus far in 2003.

The student volunteers, many of whom want to be doctors or mid-level medical providers, are drawn to Kerry’s Kids not only to get an introduction to pediatric medicine, but also to give back to their communities. These students incorporate themselves into each site which operates like a very busy primary care clinic. The students serve in numerous capacities depending on the current need at each particular site. They have served as receptionists and clerks helping to register the families who are to be seen, many of whom cannot speak or read English. Other times they must serve as medical assistants, taking weights, heights and vital signs of the children who are to be seen by the physicians. And still other times they may spend their time reading and playing with the children who are waiting to be seen by the physicians. Together, our resident physicians, mid-level and student volunteers have greatly enhanced the level of efficiency and overall quality of the medical care we provide. They have also enabled us to provide our families with an increased level of individualized attention and care.

COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS

In addition to the growth of our exceptional volunteer staff, this year has also seen our presence in the community grow through the maintenance of our long-standing alliance with The Head Start Program as well as through many new collaborations. We participated in The Children's Summit in an effort to build a united and sustainable advocacy network in our community. Additionally, we have developed collaborative and advisory relationships with other medical providers seeking to serve the homeless and uninsured children and families in the East Bay including the Rota Care of San Leandro Free Clinic, The Suitcase Clinic and the Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless Program.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH

The momentum we have gained over the past year

continues to drive us forward as we develop internal projects such as Leo’s Legacy and the Multicultural Diversity Program’s Home Visitation Program. We are also forging new relationships with students participating in the UC Berkeley Biology Scholars Program (BSP). In addition, we will continue to work with the UC Office of the President’s project, The Health and Wellness Initiative, in an effort to provide quality health care in school settings. And we will begin piloting a developmental screening project in collaboration with Every Child Counts (ECC) in an effort to better screen the children we serve and to provide prevention and early intervention for possible developmental problems.

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

In the coming year we hope to see our volunteer staff continue to grow so that we may serve more children in need. We also hope that each family’s experience with Kerry’s Kids will help them to feel less alienated by medical professionals and the health care system in general. As Kerry’ Kids continues to bring high quality free health care and education to the children we serve we hope we may also become even more instrumental in building connections between the families and community pediatricians. Through their interactions with Kerry’s Kids, we would like to see all of our uninsured under-served children acquire medical insurance and transition into medical and dental home offices within their communities.


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Kerry's Kids
936B Seventh St. PMB 129, Novato, CA 94945 | Phone: (510) 444-4326 | Email: info@kerryskids.org
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