Prescriptions for Poverty 

Children's Hospital Oakland and Highland Hospital are trying to shift the paradigm of urban medicine by tackling some of the root causes of illness — like the lack of housing and food.

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The increased volume is also likely to exacerbate one of the toughest challenges for volunteers — talking to patients who they just can't help.

"I ran into a lot of obstacles and very complicated problems where I felt like I couldn't do anything," Highland volunteer Steve Lee told coordinators at a recent consortium meeting, reflecting on the hospital's pilot. "What I started to realize is it doesn't work for everyone, but for some people, I can truly make a difference in their lives and that's what kept me going."

JiaLing Chu, a 63-year-old Fremont resident and Highland patient, said that, at the very least, it's comforting to have the advocates there every time she visits. "They are doing the best they can for you. And if they can't help, they refer me to the people they think can," she said. "I just feel like they are my guardian angels."

If you're interested in learning more about the program, email Dayna Long at Children's Hospital Oakland at And for more information on the Highland Health Advocates program, call 510- 437-4688.

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