Embracing our Community
Embracing Our Community

Gail Millan, MN, RN

Gail Millan, MN, RN
Gail Millan, MN, RN

Nursing Education Program Coordinator, Cedars-Sinai

Cedars-Sinai sends healthcare professionals to underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods throughout the year to provide free screenings, immunizations and education to those in need. Education Program Coordinator Gail Millan, MN, RN, brings together teams of nurses who offer vital services to the region’s most vulnerable residents. Here, she talks about the nurses’ commitment to improving community health.

Where do nurses perform this community work?

We go where the needs are greatest. Cedars-Sinai Community Health and Education partners with organizations across L.A. to determine where to send our teams and what services to provide. Our biggest event is the annual Telemundo 52 Health & Wellness Fair, which draws thousands of low-income Latino residents to the Los Angeles Convention Center. Our sizable team at this daylong event includes 150 nurses, who provide thousands of screenings. We also offer services at African-American churches in South L.A., the Koreatown Senior and Community Center, and Plummer Park Community Center in West Hollywood. Whenever possible, we provide nurses who speak the languages of immigrant communities — including Spanish, Korean and Russian. This enables us to build trust quickly so people feel comfortable talking about the health issues they are facing.

What do nurses gain from participating in these events?

They see how great the needs are in underserved communities and want to help. At many of the annual health fairs we participate in, people return year after year to get their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked. Many do not otherwise have access to healthcare and count on these annual visits. One little moment of help can make a big difference in their lives, so our nurses find this work very rewarding.

What are your key goals at these events?

We make the most of our time with each individual to identify any major health issues and provide education on the importance of good nutrition, regular exercise and health screenings. We help people understand their test results and health risks, and provide low-cost referrals when follow-up is needed.

The nurses ask questions about health habits and listen carefully to determine what issues need to be addressed. For example, people may not understand how to take their medications correctly. Whatever the problem may be, we look for the best approach to enable people to do what they need to do for their health.

What impact do you see nurses having on people’s lives?

People greet us with hugs and tell us how grateful they are that we come to them. One elderly woman we screened at a health fair had a dangerously high blood sugar level. We gave her a referral for medical care and information on how to change her diet. She would come back every time we were in her neighborhood. It took a while, but the last time we saw her, she had a normal glucose level. She looked like a different person — she was more energetic and so proud of what she had accomplished. Successes like this give our nurses a great feeling of accomplishment.