Los Angeles,
06:23 AM

Health Fair Has Special Meaning for Cedars-Sinai Nurse

Despite the scorching 100-degree temperature, Olena Svetlov, RN, CNS, was all smiles as she took blood pressure readings and administered care to patients at the recent Cedars-Sinai/SOVA Back-to-School Health Fair in Van Nuys.

For Svetlov, this was a special event. The fair catered to clients of SOVA, a food bank that is part of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles. The organization's name is in Hebrew and means "eat and be satisfied." And it holds another, very special meaning to Svetlov.

Years ago, when Svetlov was a struggling new immigrant, she came to SOVA for her basic needs. She was pregnant at the time and she and her husband were barely able to pay the rent. SOVA gave her a trunk full of diapers for their then-unborn baby and a bag to come back and fill with groceries every month.

"I said, 'How can I ever pay you back?'" Svetlov said. "They told me, 'Don't worry, there'll be a time you can come and give back.'"

Svetlov, now a critical care nurse as Cedars-Sinai, regularly joins Cedars-Sinai COACH for Kids and the Cedars-Sinai Community Health and Education program as they deliver healthcare to underserved communities around Los Angeles. This time, she brought her now 11-year-old daughter, Taya, to help out and see firsthand what it's like to help fellow Angelenos get ready for the first day of school on Aug. 20.

During the fair, SOVA distributed food and back-to-school supplies to 300 families and also provided free haircuts for children. Cedars-Sinai supplied free healthcare, including the vaccines children need in order to register for school, along with blood pressure screenings, dental screenings and other health education activities.

"With SOVA's support, I was able to finish nursing school and be here today to help people who are on the same journey I was on," Svetlov said.