Health on Wheels

  • November 7, 2016

Six years ago, fresh out of high school, Cal State East Bay nursing student and Connecticut native Leslie Nguyen moved to Hayward to start college.

Her goal? 

Graduate and find a job in the medical field that would allow her to move her mother from the East Coast — currently living in a nursing home due to a stroke — to — California.

Nguyen is now a third-year nursing student with plans to pursue her master’s in healthcare administration. But in the meantime, she’s also the president of a nonprofit called Initiative for Community Wellness. When she’s not studying, she’s overseeing a free health clinic at a food pantry in Hayward and working on opening another. The clinics provide basic wellness checkups and seasonal vaccines.

“I grew up poor so I understand not having access to healthcare,” Nguyen said. “I saw such a great opportunity to help the underserved populations in Hayward. I thought ‘If we can get this clinic moving around the Bay Area, we can go and help even more people if we bring it to them.’”

The ICW clinic is currently stationary, housed in a shipping container at the Hayward Day Labor Center, but Nguyen has hopes to make it mobile by year’s end. It is full of medical supplies, mostly donated through Nguyen’s connections within the CSUEB nursing program and the nonprofit medical supplier, MedShare. This summer, Nguyen started a campaign to purchase wheels for the container in preparation to hit the road.

“I am going to run more fundraisers,” she said. “It would be nice if more people from the community donated to support this great healthcare initiative.”

This quarter she has plans to staff both clinics with medical professionals she’s met through Cal State East Bay, and her fellow students looking for hands-on experience. She also wants to tap into various resources for funding and work with the CSUEB Student Life Center to plan events such as a road race, toy drive and healthcare carnival.

Nguyen says she hopes all students including those not in nursing or medical programs see the clinic as a chance to get involved and make a difference.

“All majors are welcome, as there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone to help their community,” Nguyen said. “When we all work together it’s a beautiful thing.”

And she’s loving working toward having her own clinic and meeting the goals her younger self set all those years ago.