Communities with the greatest medical needs often experience the fewest physicians and hospitals. With help in part from Kaiser Permanente, South Central Family Health Center took another major step to narrow that gap in one of California’s most medically underserved areas.
SCFHC, a federally qualified nonprofit health center, celebrated the grand opening of its Vernon Medical Center on August 17. About 120 people, including representatives from numerous elected officials’ offices, local and state health organizations, area businesses, and the community attended the reception. Located in the heart of South Los Angeles, the eye-catching, three-story, 8,000-square-foot structure houses the S. Mark Taper Women’s Health Center, and the Chronic Disease Management Center sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
Kaiser Permanente awarded SCFHC a $500,000 grant for the construction of the Vernon Medical Center.
“This was an easy grant to say yes to because of all the wonderful work you do for the community and the high-quality care you provide,” Angela Coron, managing director, Community Benefit, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, told members of the SCFHC Board of Directors at the reception. “By investing in our community partners, together we are improving the health of our communities.”
“Everybody should have access to quality, affordable health care,” said Richard Veloz, chief executive officer, SCFHC, whose organization has provided South Los Angeles primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services since 1981. “The Vernon Medical Center is our response to our patients’ needs. SCFHC saw 20,000 patients in 2016, and we expect to expand access to an additional 4,000 new patients by 2022.”
Based on results from a local needs assessment, patients need more comprehensive ways to manage and control chronic diseases such as hypertension, asthma, and diabetes, and female patients want a one-stop center where their health care needs can be addressed across the life spectrum.
“This Center allows us to consolidate care in one place and maximize the services we provide,” said Tumani Leatherwood, MD, partner emeritus, Kaiser Permanente – Southern California Permanente Medical Group, who has served on the SCFHC Board of Directors for the past seven years.
Magdalena Lopez, 41, of Watts said she appreciates the expert, compassionate care she has received at SCFHC for the cancerous tumor under her arm.
“Having a Center like this is incredibly helpful, not just for me but also for those of us who are low income,” said Lopez.
Inspiring, black-and-white photos of real patients like Lopez grace the clinic’s hallways to emphasize the focus of the Center to everyone who enters: that the patients are at the heart of everything the Center does.
In addition to investing in expanding services, SCFHC impacts the community by creating good paying jobs. More than 40 local construction workers and contractors helped build the Vernon Medical Center, and more than 100 staff members come from the neighborhoods SCFHC serves.
Carmela Castellanos, president and chief executive officer, California Primary Care Association, who attended the reception, said the new Center fills a significant community need. “It’s amazing to see such a high-quality facility as this,” she said.