University of Southern California


Working with our neighbors to build a strong community

Walk with a Doc program builds bridge between USC doctors and the Boyle Heights Community

For residents of Boyle Heights, access to medical professionals usually takes place after a variety of home remedies have been exhausted.  The meetings with physicians tend to take place when a disease has taken its toll personally, or among family and friends.  Medical advice generally is received as “bad news”, leading to an overwhelming sense of dread during doctor visits.

Members of the Boyle Heights community gathered at Hazard Park, across from Keck Hospital, to participate in the launch of the official Walk with a Doc chapter at USC. The goal of the nationwide program is to bridge the gap between physcians and the communities they serve, a very helpful tool for physicians and medical students.

Sulema Camacho, a Promotora for Clinica Romero, believes these community building experiences are invaluable.  “These events really help spread the message to the community, that they shouldn’t be intimidated to visit a doctor.” Camacho said, “It is very important because our community has many challenges when it comes to health.  This helps us in trying to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle in order to prevent diseases.”

Sulema Camacho (green), believes having access to physicians like Dr. Harlan is a great asset to the community. (USC/Saul Garcia)

Dr. Greg Harlan, associate professor of clinical pediatrics and medical education at the Keck School of Medicine, says that the goal of the program is “To get people engaged with medical professionals in their local community and center it around physical activity.”

Harlan says the program benefits doctors and the community, the setting and casual nature of the walk provides a different perspective.  “For the community, I think it’s great for them to see us with a different lens.” Said Harlan, “It’s an opportunity to breakdown barriers between doctors and the community.  As a doctor, I see them as patients when they walk into the clinic.  This walks around the neighborhood, or park, allows me to get more knowledge of them as people in a casual setting while promoting a healthier lifestyle.”

The USC chapter of Walk with a Doc is a collaborative effort between Dr. Harlan, USC Keck Medical School and USC Civic Engagment.