Free health care clinic in South LA attracts thousands

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About 4,800 people are expected to pass through the LA Sports Arena this weekend to get health care for free. This is the fourth year that Care Harbor has held its free health clinic there. Doctors from around LA are volunteering their time to see patients who otherwise couldn’t pay for medical attention.

Two of the most popular stops at Care Harbor are the ones that often don’t get covered by insurers: the vision and dental care stations. “It went alright, they didn’t bring the crown machine, they say they’re only doing crowns on the front teeth and my crown is for my first molar, so they couldn’t put no crown on my tooth,” said Jamon Potts. He waited almost six hours to get a wristband to come to today’s clinic. Even though he didn’t get what he came for, he said it was still worth it.

Patient Stephanie Johnson rearranged her schedule to get to the clinic today. She agrees. “I really like this. I really think it’s a good thing that they’re doing, because there’s a lot of us that can’t get no medicare or health plan. I really think they’re doing a good job. Matter of fact, if it is long, I’m not even saying it’s long because I appreciate the time they take. I’m just sitting here enjoying it.”

With election season approaching, Care Harbor is using this year’s clinic to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act, letting patients know that by 2014 they can expect to have access to healthcare.
Even at today’s event, where healthcare insurance is major topic, opinions on the issue are split.

Volunteer Dentist Younes Safa said, “I’m not for universal healthcare, I think primarily the healthcare issue is a job issue. If you can get people jobs then they can get their own insurance to their liking then that’s the way to go.”

Potts, who lost his healthcare when he resigned from his job, disagrees, “Everyone should have healthcare for free, you know what I mean, really, truthfully.”

Organizers expect to treat about 1,000 more patients this year than they saw last year, but that is still only a fraction of the estimated two-million people living without health insurance in Los Angeles.

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