2023 Grants Challenge

Healing Los Angeles: Free Dental & Vision Care

Healing California believes that access to quality health care is a basic human right. We provide free, quality dental and vision care to uninsured and underrepresented Los Angelenos, including veterans and unhoused individuals and families. In collaboration with community-based organizations, health clinics, and veteran organizations, we deploy our pop-up clinics and mobile health care van to neighborhoods across LA County that have the highest need for services, providing care to between 20 and 300 dental and vision patients per day.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Health Care Access

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

San Fernando Valley

West LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In California, 3.9 million people lack access to basic dental and vision care and more than 80,000 people go to the emergency room every year because of preventable dental ailments. Accessing services through Medi-Cal or Denti-Cal can be daunting, especially for those who lack an official ID, don't speak English, or experience other barriers to insurance or services. There are more than 400,000 disabled veterans in the State of California with many ineligible to receive services from the VA. Poor oral health severely limits the ability of individuals to obtain and maintain employment, housing, and other life necessities, and can lead to and exacerbate other ailments, causing endocarditis (infection of the heart), contributing to cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia. By providing free, quality, integrated dental, and vision services to those who need it most, Healing California is a champion for equitable healthcare coverage for all people.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

This year, Healing California Pop-Up and Mobile Dental and Vision Clinics is taking patient care to Veteran Stand Downs, community health centers, VFW Posts, high schools, colleges, and neighborhood centers in Los Angeles County. Most clinics offer a combination of free dental and vision care. We reserve approximately 30 - 40 percent of clinics to provide dental care only. The Healing California Pop-Up and Mobile Clinics can treat between 20 and 300 dental and/or vision patients per clinic day. We complete a pre-screening with each patient to ensure they are healthy enough for dental and vision care. Dental services include cleanings, fillings, extractions and more. Vision services include complete eye exams and the fabrication of customized eyeglasses. We remove as many barriers to accessing care as possible. We do not require proof of income, citizenship, or veteran discharge status; paperwork is limited to the minimum necessary to provide care. Healing California does not charge for services and provides language interpretation whenever possible. Above all, we treat all patients with dignity and respect. In response to COVID-19, Healing California adapted its service model to include a mobile health care van that supports staff and volunteer providers to travel directly to neighborhoods with the most need. With the loosening of restrictions, Healing California has been able to safely return to a larger pop-up clinic model, serving more patients in need.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

By working to improve the dental and vision health of low-income, uninsured and underrepresented individuals throughout LA County, Healing California is a champion for equitable health care coverage and access for all people. We help people live life free of infection and pain; we help people see well enough to read again; we help people move beyond the misery of a toothache or blurry vision so they can meet the opportunities and challenges presented to them as individuals and as community members. Our patients are predominantly non-White (70%) and low-income (89%). Last year, nearly 41% of our patients identified as female. Every single one of our patients has powerful potential to contribute to meaningful and positive change in their lives, communities and neighborhoods. By providing access to basic health care, we are helping make it possible for our patients to seize their important role in making LA the best place to learn, create, play, connect and live.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Healing California implements qualitative and quantitative evaluation processes to assess the impact of services. Qualitative assessments include general evaluations to measure program effectiveness in addressing patient needs. We also conduct focused follow-up discussions with partner agencies to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of operations, analyze the overall success of each event, and determine additional needs and areas for improvement. We utilize administer surveys to determine patient and volunteer satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. Quantitative measures to assess the impact of services at each clinic and service site include tracking the number of patients served, the dollar value of services provided per patient and per clinic, and the number of prescription glasses produced. We are committed to the highest standard of care and consult the American Dental Association and California Optometric Association for industry best practices and service rates.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 900

Indirect Impact: 0