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.