The story of this project starts with an email about a kickstarter grant through the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Watt Corporation. It was a fast pitch competition–three minutes with no notes in front of a live audience and judges. It sounded terrifying! I initially couldn’t put together a cohesive response, so I set the email aside for later. It sat there all summer until I brought it up at a meeting with Venice Family Clinic’s CEO, Elizabeth (Liz) Benson Forer. I thought Liz or someone at the Clinic would have already jumped on it, but it turns out that no one had. We started to discuss what type of project might fit for the pitch, and quickly decided on an idea to develop a curriculum to teach street medicine. Our teaching program existed in a rudimentary form from years of hosting Harbor UCLA Family Medicine Residents and various medical and PA students. It was the perfect project that needed full development.
Liz brought Carla DeVore and Jacob Heller onto the project and they wrote a great proposal that got us into the competition. Carla continued, and we were a great team. With a lot of hard work and luck (and me not forgetting my lines), we won our portion of the competition.
I want to thank all of the contributors who helped complete this daunting project. The first round of development began with a series of super interns: James Pratt, who is now in his PhD program in biochemistry at CU Boulder; Matthew Ware, who was too good and got hired away from me by the Clinic’s QI department; and Steven Babcock, who also simultaneously helped me design a Street Medicine van.
We desperately needed an academic writer, and Debby Maddis came on board. She and I spent hours together, and she delivered the first draft and a near-complete product. At this point, I wanted another medical clinician on board. Carrie Kowalski is a Physician Assistant and the Clinic’s Homeless Lead (who by the way is also in the USC Trojan PA Hall of Fame). I was lucky enough to secure some of her time to take the curriculum to the next level, so it also included our observations of the social medicine aspect of street medicine. I also want to thank Carla DeVore and Jenny O’Brian for helping with the final round of edits.
We cannot forget Evonne Biggs, our program manager, who has seen this project through to the end. Without Evonne we would be left with a half-finished project and missed deadlines.
My final and most important thank you is to the Watt family for funding this project through the United Way. Also, thank you to Social Venture Partners for bringing me through this competition and putting on an excellent show.
So when you have that email sitting in your inbox for months, don’t forget about it. It may be the start of something special.
-Coley King, D.O
Director of Homeless Health Care Services
Coley King, D.O.
Carrie Kowalski, PA-C