Recuperative Care Center aims to aid homeless in South L.A.


The MLK Recuperative Care Center, open to patients starting Jan. 5, is housed in a former dormitory for Charles Drew University medical students. | Marc Trotz, LA County Department of Health Services

Next month the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services plans to open a recuperative care facility adjacent to the Martin Luther King Community Hospital. The facility will treat homeless patients who have been discharged from the hospital or the nearby county-owned Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center.

“If you’re homeless and you’ve been discharged from the hospital you often don’t have anyone to treat your wounds, change the dressings or help you manage with a broken leg,” said Marc Trotz, director of DHS’ Housing for Health program. “You can’t deal with these conditions properly if you are living on the streets.”

The MLK Recuperative Care Center, which will begin accepting patients Jan. 5, will be housed on the hospital campus, in a former dormitory for Charles Drew University medical students. The center will have 50 rooms and 100 patient beds, making it the county’s largest facility of its kind.
[Read more…]

Hospital re-opens with new focus + New health program targets South LA seniors

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital reopened with a new focus on using IT to better serve patients. (Intersections South LA)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital reopened with a new focus on using IT to better serve patients. (Intersections South LA)

IT, culture helps reborn L.A. hospital shed ‘Killer King’ past: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital re-opened last July after patient safety was called into question. The South LA hospital is now using IT to maximize resources in the medically under-served community.

New Preventive Health Program Helps South L.A. Seniors Get ‘HAPPI’: A community-based research project launched to help South LA seniors access preventative care. Healthcare officials hope the public will be better informed about the services they have access to, improving the community’s quality of life.

Healthcare fair comes to South LA

Volunteer Carmen Abalos enjoyed a healthy snack during a break.

Volunteer Carmen Abalos enjoyed a healthy snack during a break.

Los Angeles Trade-Tech College was abuzz with crowds, booths, colorful displays, food, and games being played under large white tents last Saturday afternoon. In one corner, children bounced in an air-filled castle, taking occasional breaks to drink bottled water and eat fruit cups. The adults moved from table to table, chatting, carrying reusable shopping bags filled with paperwork and hand sanitizer.

In spite of the carnival-like atmosphere, the event’s purpose was serious: to provide hundreds of L.A.’s lowest income families with healthcare before the day’s end. [Read more…]

Despite odds, a boost in heart health for South LA

By Belinda Cai, Diana Crandall, Bentley Curtis, Taylor Haney, Daniel Jimenez, Kevin Mallory, Ken Mashinchi, Jonathan Tolliver and Yingzhi Yang

Zumba class at the Baldwin Hills Mall. | Daniel Jimenez

Zumba class at the Baldwin Hills Mall. | Daniel Jimenez

The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw community is changing shape.

The South L.A. neighborhood has received various grants within the past several years to start programs aimed at reducing its relatively high rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity while improving access to nutrition and basic health services.

For many people, these efforts have worked. Take Debra Finley, who signed up for free Zumba classes through the BFit program at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

“I was 195 pounds,” said Finley. “Now I’m 145.”

It is still unclear whether overall health outcomes are improving in the area. Many of these programs are less than a decade old, and are being pushed into neighborhoods that remain swamped with fast food restaurants and liquor stores. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 8 percent of area food retailers in the area are considered healthy.

Yet, many positive trends are emerging. [Read more…]

Mental health advocate calls for South LA services

Protesters gather outside the LA County Jail ahead of the June sheriff election. | Daina Beth Solomon

Protesters gather outside the LA County Jail ahead of the June sheriff election. | Daina Beth Solomon

Gregory Bimin grew up in South L.A. battling both schizophrenia and alcohol addiction. He also battled to find services in his neighborhood. Hear Bimin’s story in an audio piece from Annenberg Radio News:

Now that the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is considering a major jail expansion that would create additional facilities for mentally-ill inmates, some are saying that resources should be directed toward diversion programs instead, helping to keep mentally ill offenders out of jail in the first place. [Read more…]

South LA gets a taste of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

The wellness and diabetes group from the Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center has climbed on board to take part in celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s food revolution.

The lesson today, “Fish Made Easy,” included a basic red sauce sautéed with garlic, olives, and basil baked over a white fish and served with what the cooks called “brilliant broccoli.”

Caroline Snow, one of the instructors giving free lessons to community members out of the Big Rig Mobile Teaching Kitchen parked on East 120th Street in front of the medical center, offered simple directions: “We’re using the canned tomatoes sauce here on the rig, but you can use fresh tomatoes and with the summer season coming and growing new gardens its great to pick your own tomatoes, puree them, and use that. Then we’re making the sauce, putting the fish with it and baking it for a few minutes.” [Read more…]

Community leaders seek healthcare funds for LA County’s uninsured

AffordableCareApril2014-ARNAs the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act comes to an end, about one million people in Los Angeles County remain uninsured. Community groups and activist organizations are calling upon the Board of Supervisors to propose a plan for those still without healthcare.

Click play on an audio story from Annenberg Radio News to hear from those ineligible for Obamacare, as well as the voices of the people fighting on their behalf for another solution.

Health care providers petitioning hospital costs

image$21 for a single dose of Ibuprofen. $86 for an Ace Bandage. These are the prices hospitals all over the state are allegedly charging patients. And unionized health care workers and community leaders are not happy. Joanna Powers is a licensed vocational nurse at Western Medical Anaheim.

“The health care system is out of control, it’s out of control and we have to band together to put a stop to it,” Powers said.

The SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West has collected over 250,000 signatures in just one month in favor of two proposed initiatives.

The union needs 1.7 million signatures to get on the November 2012 ballot. It if succeeds, non-profit hospitals will give five percent of their patient revenue to healthcare for the needy in exchange for not paying federal, state and local taxes. Additionally, hospitals all over the state will charge no more than 25% of the actual cost of providing health care.

Dave Regan, President of the SEIU-United Health Care Workers West, said that in California alone, hospitals charge an average of 460% more than the actual cost of providing care.

“$21 aspirin, $151 for eye drops, $127 for lotion,” Regan said. “The cost for hospital care is getting beyond the means of far too many people in this state and we as health care workers want to do something about that.”

imageSome might argue that such drastic cuts would affect patient safety and care. Joanna Powers disagrees.

“I think that the hospital will be able to function as usual. They just won’t be making that big of a profit margin and they need to share the cost. These people need treatment and the hospitals need to pick up their share,” Powers said.

Centinela Hospital is owned by Prime Health Care Services. The union says on average Centinela patients are charged 789 percent of the hospital’s cost.

A spokesperson for Prime Health Care Services referred our call to the California Hospital Association, which was not available to comment by air time.

Controlling health care costs has been on the political agenda both nationally and in California. Regan says it’s time something is done.

“People get bills that bankrupt them. Medical debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the state of California,” Regan said.

Regan says that each day the union is adding 20,000 signatures to the petition and he is confident their initiative will appear on the November 20 ballot.

Clinic to expand services in South L.A.

Angela Cruz wouldn’t have access to health care without St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. The South Central Los Angeles resident lives near St. John’s clinics at Hoover and West 58th Streets.

“St. John’s is vital to this community. Because whether or not we have money to pay for health insurance, we are able to receive medical services and attention,” Cruz said through a translator.

imageThe St. John’s clinics are located on the corner of Hoover Street and W 58th Street in South Central.

On Wednesday morning, St. John’s broke ground for an expansion project on two of its clinics.

The clinics provide health care services for residents of South Central Los Angeles. The organization hopes that the expansion will help it serve an additional 8,968 people a year.

“We are throwing the first punch in creating a health reform zone in South Los Angeles because our community deserves nothing less,” said St. John’s President Jim Mangia.

imageJim Mangia

With the expansion, 15 exam rooms and eight dental chairs will be added to the Louis C Frayser and S. Mark Taper Health Centers. The project is projected to cost $11.2 million.

St. John’s provides more than 100,000 health care visits a year in South Los Angeles where the lack of health care access is staggering compared to the other parts of the state.

In South Los Angeles the ratio of residents to physicians is 8,603:1, while the statewide ratio is only 190:1, according to St. John’s.

L.A. Care is a public health plan that helps low income individuals and families afford health services. The organization refers a lot of their clients to St. John’s clinics. Its president, Howard Kahn, said the St. John’s expansion is a step in the right direction to providing universal health care by 2014 as part of the Affordable Care Act.

“We need an expanded St. John’s to deal with the heal needs of South Los Angeles,” Kahn said. “When health reform rolls out there are going to be a lot more people eligible for this care and the expansion will help us provide that.”

The project is set to be complete by the Spring.

Free health Clinic a ‘Band-Aid’ Fix to Uninsurance Problem

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

image Nearly 5,000 people will descend on the LA Sports Arena from Thursday to Sunday this week – not to see a game, but to see a doctor.
CareNow is hosting its fourth large scale health care clinic this weekend.

But Donald Manelli, CareNow’s president and founder, would like to see the event becomes obsolete.

“It’s kind of an ad hoc solution to a problem that one hopes will go away eventually,” he said. “It’s kind of a barn-raising. It’s kind of the community coming together to help people in great need.”

More than 2 million people in Los Angeles are uninsured, and another 2 million are on Medicaid.

Shana Alex Lavarreda of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research says that the clinic is a Band-Aid approach, but still necessary.

“We need some extra Band-Aid to at least to get us through at least some initial period before health care reform will hopefully cover many of these uninsured people in a good health insurance program,” she said. “But it’s certainly not an ideal situation. We need something more sustainable. We need something that can actually be a system over time that can handle the capacity of the health care needs of the population of Los Angeles.”

Nina Vaccaro, executive director of the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers, says that connecting people with a medical home where they can get regular services is essential.

“In a perfect world, eventually I would like to see that we don’t have a need for these episodic events,” she said. “But right now that need is so great. The services that these clinics have are comprehensive but limited. Our clinics are doing the best that they can but they’ve got lines around the block every morning.”

Patients who need follow up treatment will be connected with local clinics.