Oct 30 2009
The Weingart Center Association, JWCH Institute and the County of Los Angeles announced today the opening of the Center for Community Health Downtown Los Angeles, a state-of-the-art medical facility that provides integrated care to the more than 18,000 homeless and low-income people in and around Skid Row. The 21,000-square-foot facility, located at 522 S. San Pedro Street, is expected to meet the healthcare needs of nearly 9,000 patients annually. The center will provide a variety of medical services under one roof, including medical, mental health, substance abuse services, dentistry, ophthalmology and pharmacy. The opening of the center represents more than five years of dedicated work by collaborative partners and successfully demonstrates how important public-private partnerships are in addressing the needs of the community.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity to open a health center that provides comprehensive services under one roof," said Gregory C. Scott, president and chief executive officer of the Weingart Center Association. "The Weingart Center is very excited to be a part of this collaboration that provides the much-needed access to care and a 'medical home' for the people in our community without the stigma associated with lack of housing and poor access to health coverage."
Los Angeles County's estimated homeless population is the largest in the nation. On any given night there are there are approximately 75,000 homeless people living on the streets, of which 5,000 are located in Los Angeles' Skid Row. According to the Los Angeles Housing Authority, more than 74 percent are affected by depression, mental illness, substance abuse, physical disabilities, AIDS/HIV related illnesses, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other chronic health conditions. Hospital emergency rooms are the primary source of healthcare for 48 percent of these individuals who lack access to regular medical services.
"This new health center is a giant step forward as we work to meet the nearly overwhelming need for quality healthcare services in and around Skid Row," said Al Ballesteros, chief executive officer of JWCH Institute. "The integrated service delivery approach will help to eliminate service duplication, maximize resources and expand current services."
The Center for Community Health emerged from the Skid Row Homeless Healthcare Initiative created by the Weingart Foundation in 2003. The Weingart Foundation began the initiative to address the unmet health needs of homeless individuals and support improvements in healthcare delivery to enable access to care. Funding from the foundation and other philanthropic organizations made it possible for community organizations to develop this innovative approach to healthcare delivery.
"The Weingart Foundation is exceptionally proud to provide the lead gift for this community health center," said Fred Ali, president and chief executive officer of the Weingart Foundation. "We would also like to acknowledge the other funders that joined this long-term effort. The Weingart Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life in Southern California and this health center is an exciting culmination of community efforts to address the important healthcare needs of individuals in Downtown Los Angeles.
The County of Los Angeles is providing professional staff from various departments to implement this integrated model of care. The Department of Mental Health will provide mental health screening, assessment, treatment and medication support. The Department of Public Health will provide radiology services and host TB medical clinics on site to provide TB testing, treatment and directly observed therapy, as well as substance abuse services through the DPH-Alcohol and Drug Programs Administration. The Department of Health Services will provide HIV testing and treatment, and referrals for mental health services and case management.
"The County of Los Angeles is proud to be a part of the unique partnership and opening of the Center for Community Health," said Kathy House, manager of the Service Integration Branch of the County's CEO's office. "The center provides a unique approach to healthcare integration in the county which we hope will serve as a model for replication."
SOURCE The Weingart Center Association