UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement:  Los Angeles County Department of Public Health/Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health
Location: Los Angeles   
Preceptor: Cynthia Harding, MPH
Student Name:
Bahar Khanjari-Navab
Year: 2006

On July 6, 2006 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors created a new Department of Public Health, separate from the Department of Health Services. The Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Programs is a branch of the new Department of Public Health.  

With 150 employees and a budget of over 20 million dollars, MCAH mission is to maximize the health and quality of life for LA County’s pregnant and parenting women, children, adolescents, and their families. MCAH offers direct services to clients, provides trainings and resources to providers, and collaborates on policy setting with organizations in LA County. While MCAH offers services for all women and children in LA County, many of its programs are targeted to low income and high risk women in need of prenatal and post-partum care and support. 

I was hired in June of 2006 to work primarily on two projects under Cindy Harding, the Director of the MCAH Programs. In addition to its usual programs, MCAH, in collaboration with the Bioterrorism Unit, planned to launch an emergency preparedness campaign among clients and contracted providers. I worked with the different program directors at MCAH and the representative from the Bioterrorism Unit to get the first phase of the campaign underway. I created materials and a presentation to train the MCAH public health nurses to incorporate an emergency preparedness curriculum into home visits with pregnant or parenting women. I also developed and ordered preliminary emergency kits to be used as incentives for clients to complete emergency communication plans.

The second major project I worked on at MCAH was an assessment of emergency contraception (EC) access and availability in Los Angeles County. In Spring of 2006, MCAH partnered with the Office of Women’s Health and the STD Program to establish the LA County EC Workgroup to improve EC access in LA County. I assisted the group by designed a survey to assess providers’ perceived barriers to prescribing and distributing EC in County facilities. Additionally, I drafted a briefing paper highlighting the status of EC in LA County and recommendations to improve access to EC in County clinics. 

Working at MCAH provided me with a great opportunity to learn about the County structure and how public health operates in local government. Cindy Harding was a great preceptor who offered me positive feedback and encouragement. She allowed me to observe different leadership styles and decision making processes by attending meetings and conferences with local and national organizations. My internship also reaffirmed the importance of formative research and strong communication for efficient program planning. MCAH helped me to realize my strengths and plans for professional growth.

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