Mobile SCI Clinic in San Luis Obispo a huge success

Nine persons with a spinal cord injury living in the San Luis Obispo area came to our first-ever SCI Mobile Clinic and consulted for nearly an hour each with our team of OT, PT and Nurse Practitioner who provided expert exam and recommendations for various issues, including skin, bowel, bladder, spasticity, PT, seating and other.  During our time there, we also discovered that there is indeed a dramatic shortage of expert medical care for those with SCI

It was nearly a year ago that we were busy developing our 2018 goals and objectives and NorCal SCI co-founder, Nick Struthers, came up with this idea of delivering medical professionals with specific SCI expertise to those areas of Northern California with an SCI population that lacked that level of experience and supply.  Living in the Bay Area, we take for granted our access to such care but it’s a whole different game once you go to another part of the state.

And hence, we set out to conduct our first-ever SCI Mobile Clinic this past Saturday by heading down to San Luis Obispo.  The trip was the result of months of planning and discussions.  Along the way, we discovered that Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose used to provide such a service but discontinued it due to a variety of issues.

First, we’re grateful to our trio of medical professionals volunteering their time and making the trip, without whom this wouldn’t have happened.  They saw nine individuals in a span of over eight hours, spending lengthy periods of time with each person.  This team is made up of:

Carole Adler Hughes, over 35 years of experience as an OT working with individuals with SCI at the renowned Spinal Cord Injury and Rehab Trauma Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Rebecca Hummel-Moore, Nurse Practitioner at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley with expertise in spasticity, bowel & bladder management and skin care.

Gillian Haskell, received her B.S. in Nutrition & Food Sciences, Doctorate in Physical Therapy and Masters in Public Health, and currently works in the Intensive Care Unit at UCSF Medical Center.  

Next, we are grateful to the SLO Noor Clinic coordinator, Jim Eaton, who not only opened up the offices of the free clinic serving that area but also stayed with us the entire time.  Additionally, be recruited a wheelchair repair technician, Tim from Wallace Home Medical, and Ted, a Physical Therapy Assistant from Guardian Angels who attended to anyone that required any kind of assistance.  We found Jim to be a genuinely nice and caring person and was constantly checking up on us to see if we needed anything.  By the way, Jim is not only volunteer but so is most of the staff there.  Additionally, they don’t ask for any insurance, money, not even address as they receive all their funding from city, county and federal grants as well as donations.  It’s truly an amazing opportunity for those uninsured to be able to get the medical help they may need.

Finally, how can we forget Mae MacDonald, coordinator of the SLO Access Support Group who worked tirelessly to get the word out about our clinic and help recruit individuals who could benefit from a visit.  Mae is an able-body but is very committed to assisting those with mobility challenges.  She came over and allowed us to learn more about her life.

Of course, we hope the nine individuals that were seen by our medical team did benefit from their visit.  It’s not very often you can have three expert professionals spend an hour with you.  We plan on following up with the nine and get their input and feedback as we begin planning our next Mobile Clinic in early 2019.

As for San Luis Obispo, it’s a beautiful area, with a great mix of the retired population balanced with the college kids at Cal Poly.  The weather was terrific and there is a lot to do recreationally in the area.  We hope to be back in 2019.