Venice Family Clinic has won the 2005 Foster G. McGaw Prize, which includes a $100,000 grant. One of the highest and most prestigious honors in its field, the Prize honors hospitals, health systems, integrated networks and self-defined community partnerships that have demonstrated exceptional commitment to community service, and provide “innovative programs that help improve the health and well-being of the community.”The announcement of the award was made last week. Venice Family Clinic was launched in 1970 by two volunteer physicians, and originally operated at night out of a borrowed dental office. Today, it is the largest free clinic in the nation, serving approximately 22,000 men, women and children at seven community locations. Its patients are low-income, uninsured and minority community members, including more than 3,000 homeless people, on the west side of Los Angeles county.In 2002, the Clinic was a finalist for the prize.”Venice Family Clinic is unique in the breadth and depth of primary health care and supportive services offered to those with the least access to health care,” said Susan Manilow, chair of the Foster G. McGaw Prize Committee. “The Clinic has responded to and sustained programs that address the real needs of the people it serves, and it works every day to improve the health and quality of life of the most vulnerable members of its community.“The…prize recognizes health care organizations that demonstrate a passion and commitment to making their communities healthier and more vital. the truly inspiring work of the 2005 winner and finalists is a testament to this commitment…They provide excellent examples for others to follow.”The Prize is sponsored by the American Hospital Association (AHA), The Baxter International Foundation and the Cardinal Health Foundation.The Venice Family Clinic collaborates with more than 70 health and social service providers, including local hospitals, professional organizations, governmental agencies and community-based organizations across Los Angeles and California.It has “close to 500 volunteer doctors who provide primary or specialty care at one of the Clinic’s seven sites or at their private offices,” said Clinic CEO Elizabeth Benson Forer. “Our extensive community partnerships with the Los Angeles hospital community mean that someone who is gravely ill and might otherwise die can receive treatment – at times even surgery – at no cost.“Most of our patients are hard-working people. Many hold more than one job and are struggling to keep their families safe and healthy but they have no access to health care, so the Clinic has become their family doctor, But we do more than heal – we also educate our patients on how to manage their own care, as well as provide mental health services to handle the stress of what it means to be poor and uninsured.”In addition to its strong leadership and partnerships, the Clinic was recognized for its array of responsive, high quality programs and services. Ed. Note: A garbled version of this story ran in the Mirror last week. We apologize to Venice Family Clinic and its dedicated staff and volunteers for the error. The Clinic is one of Southern California’s most vital and valuable institutions, and wholly deserving of both the Award and this region’s admiration and gratitude. Peggy CliffordEditor
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