Today marked the start of the largest free healthcare clinic in the United States, organized by Care Harbor. In collaboration with L.A. Care Health Plan and Dignity Health, Care Harbor will provide free medical, dental and vision services to those in need beginning today through September 30.
"We are thrilled that once again the private and public community in Los Angeles is coming together to offer lasting care to those who need it most," said Don Manelli, president of Care Harbor. "This year, we have expanded our vision and dental services by 20 percent – but it doesn't stop there. Care Harbor is a gateway to sustainable care. Patients who need continuing care will be connected to a medical home with one of our partners in Los Angeles."
Representatives from more than 60 local clinics and medical practices that provide primary and specialized care will be onsite to make appointments for follow-up services before patients leave the clinic. Connecting patients to a medical home during clinic helps ensure that diagnosed conditions are treated and patients are monitored throughout their treatment plan.
"This year's Care Harbor clinic is more important than ever. In the next 18 months, our country's health care system will dramatically change, and it is so important that we educate the uninsured and the underinsured about their new health options," explains Howard A. Kahn, chief executive officer of L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation's largest public health plan. "Prior to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Californians were paying out of pocket for their basic health care, or even worse, waiting until their conditions became dire and even more costly. In 2014, thanks to the national reform efforts, more than 1.2 million more Californians will have access to health care coverage thanks to the Medicaid/Medi-Cal expansion."
The clinic's services will cover a range of specialties and will be delivered by health care professionals representing numerous areas of expertise.
"Everyone has the right to decent, compassionate and accessible healthcare," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "It's tragic that the discussion about healthcare is too often political and ideological, because this is a human issue. Care Harbor brings home that reality. I spoke with people who lined up Monday to secure access to medical, dental and vision care and there is not just discomfort, but in some cases real suffering that must be attended to. I can't speak highly enough of the doctors and dentists, nurses and other volunteers who have answered the call to meet the needs of their neighbors in this time of great need."
Volunteers and partners alike recognize the importance of helping people who need healthcare obtain it.
"Dignity Health is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Care Harbor to provide much needed health services in our community," said COO Harold Newton. "In our hospitals and clinics, we witness first-hand the impact on individuals and families who do not have access to care. We will continue to advocate and work towards transforming the health care system, so that all will have the opportunity to access high-quality, affordable care. With Care Harbor, Dignity Health recognizes the disparities that exist today and the need to respond with compassion now. These next days are a demonstration of a shared commitment that we are in this together and more can be done."