October 26, 2022

Watts community project reaches construction milestone

Our expansion in Watts is part of a broader community health commitment to bring services, resources, and economic opportunity closer to where people live and work.

An artist's rendering of the soon-to-be Kaiser Permanente Watts Medical Offices and new Watts Counseling and Learning Center.

Kaiser Permanente recently celebrated a construction milestone in Southern California — the official topping out of the soon-to-be Kaiser Permanente Watts Medical Offices and new Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center, which is slated to open in early 2024.

At a ceremony in September 2022, attended by Watts, California, local and regional leaders, the final steel beam was placed on the building’s structure. This completed the framework of the facility. Members of the community along with physicians and staff from Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente National Facilities Services staff, and staff from the Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center, were invited to sign their names on the symbolic final beam.

“This building is going to have such an impact on Kaiser Permanente’s vision for total health,” said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, senior vice president, chief operating officer, and chief strategy, growth, and experience officer for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and Hawaii. “Certainly, total health is physical, but it’s also mental, it’s spiritual, it’s emotional — it’s the full picture. And we shouldn’t have members traveling to multiple places to try to get that total health.

A growing presence in Watts

The approximately 60,000-square-foot, 3-story building will offer a range of amenities to the residents of Watts and surrounding communities. Those amenities include new medical services; expanded counseling, education, and preschool services; an open-air play yard; community rooms; and a public plaza. The previous Watts Counseling and Learning Center, a 9,000-square-foot facility dating back to 1967, provided counseling, outreach, and educational services to local families.

The facility will combine a new medical office and the Watts Counseling and Learning Center on a single campus. This will improve access to quality care, early childhood education, educational therapy, and social health for the Watts community. During construction, the counseling and administrative functions of the center have been temporarily relocated.

When Watts Medical Offices opens, it will be a full-service medical office providing adult primary care, pediatrics, ob-gyn, and mental health services. A nurse clinic, lab, imaging, and a pharmacy will also be located in the complex.

Community health enhanced by economic growth

The addition of these new medical offices will transform the Watts Civic Center by providing new resources that will address the health care needs of the community. Also, it will provide local employment, and space for community use.

Maria T. Aguirre, director, Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center, spoke at the topping-out celebration about the legacy of Kaiser Permanente in Watts and how this construction project is more than a building; it represents the kind of impact Kaiser Permanente can make in our communities. “Since 1967 the center has been here, and we are doubling down on our commitment to this community by bringing the best that Kaiser Permanente medicine has to offer,” she said.

The topping-out celebration comes on the heels of Kaiser Permanente participating in the Watts Community Resource and Jobs Fair in September 2022. At the fair, Kaiser Permanente staff answered questions about job opportunities within the organization and discussed current openings, including in environmental services, food and nutrition services, and other areas.

When more local residents have access to a wide range of jobs and programs focused on economic development, our communities thrive.