- Second District
County residents in need of free vision, dental or medical care should clear their calendars: at 9 a.m. Sunday, September 7, Care Harbor-LA an annual free clinic for families and individuals in need, will distribute 4,000 wristbands on a first come basis at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena’s VIP Parking Lot (gates will open at 7:00 am).
Although the upcoming four-day clinic will take place from September 11-14 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., only those who obtained wristbands ahead of time will be seen. Each wristband will have a specific day printed on it designating the day on which patients should return for treatment.
During Care Harbor-LA the Sports Arena will be transformed into a medical clinic where hundreds of doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses and general volunteers will be onsite to serve those who are uninsured, underinsured and in need of medical, dental and vision care.
This will be the fifth massive free clinic produced by Care Harbor, in an effort to bring desperately needed care to the most vulnerable populations in Los Angeles County. The organizers and healthcare professionals who formed Care Harbor, a nonprofit organization, are dedicated to providing free care to thousands of uninsured and underserved people in Southern California. Last year more than 3,000 patients were served at the Care Harbor LA clinic. Just as the previous years, this year’s free health care clinic is forecasted to serve thousands of people.
One wristband per person.
Patients will not be admitted into the free clinic without a wristband.
The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena is located at 3939 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90037.
Reginald Drummer was homeless, HIV positive and living on Skid Row for four years. But finally, he found the break he needed: Mercy Housing. The nonprofit had just opened the Jefferson Park Terrace apartments on Western Avenue and so he applied for a one-bedroom unit. Four months later, Drummer is working full time as a hairstylist in Beverly Hills, his HIV-related health issues are under control and his life is no longer on a downward spiral.
“I just needed a safe, clean place to stay and rest my head,” said Drummer. “Taking a shower, cooking a meal, feeling safe…all that stuff matters. I am so grateful every day,” Drummer said to a crowd of residents and participants in a recent ribbon cutting ceremony.
The 60 permanent affordable housing units are yet another example of public, private and non-profit entities coming together to build decent homes for Los Angeles residents.
“Every individual has the right to live in safe, affordable and quality housing,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who secured a $3.1-million investment by the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission in the project. “It is through this combination of affordable and sustainable housing, outdoor space and community services – that we really create effective and quality community development.”
Jefferson Park Terrace offers one- to four-bedroom apartments for low income families on the corner of South Western Ave and West Jefferson Boulevard. Six units are allocated for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Residents can share outdoor community picnic, barbeque and playground areas, a computer center and meeting room. In addition, there is an on-site resident services coordinator who helps with case management, civic engagement, health and educational services as well as employment training. In a twist tying the past to the present, the building was built with today’s highest environmental standards (certified LEED Gold) but is also designed in the Art Deco “Streamline Moderne” style to work seamlessly into the Craftsman-style neighborhood.
The project includes the rehabilitation of the original Fatburger which was established in 1947 by Ms. Lovie Yancey, known for mentoring musicians and entertainers such as Redd Foxx and Ray Charles, located adjacent to the site. The stand has been relocated to Western Avenue and 31st Street, and restored to its 1952 appearance.
Larita Thomas, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment, said she feels secure knowing that someone in the building is looking out for her. She lost her home last year and so now she regularly visits with the resident services coordinator to make sure she is on track.
“The services are great here because they work with you,” she said. “I know that what happened to me before won’t happen to me again here. I love it here.”
Jo Helen Graham’s son Mark was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 15 years old. Despite his parents’ efforts to find him ongoing treatment, little has been available to address his mental illness and he has suffered. A barroom brawl years ago landed him in prison when he was 19 – a tragic turn for a young man who desperately needed mental health intervention.
“Mark was never able to receive the proper mental health treatment that would have helped him,” Graham said speaking at the ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Mental Health Urgent Care Center on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus in Willowbrook.
She noted that her son is now out of prison but still suffers from mental health issues. “Jailing and warehousing our mentally ill is a human tragedy. But I am optimistic about the road ahead because of centers like this one.”
The newly refurbished two-story, 8,000-square-foot facility, which opens September 4, is the latest milestone towards the completion of a wellness community on the MLK Medical Campus that brings preventive and emergency care services to the region.
“The opening of this center is part of a broader countywide drive to expand access to mental health services and substance abuse treatment for all those in need, particularly those at risk of incarceration,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who spearheaded the effort to bring the urgent care center to the MLK campus. “Facilities like this will be most effective in promoting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.”
The center is a one-stop shop for families, individuals and law enforcement to bring a person suffering acute distress or an episode related to mental illness. Patients will receive a variety of services including psychiatric evaluation and assessment, crisis intervention, substance abuse counseling and medication support from an on-site team of experts from the county’s departments of mental health, social services, health services and public health. Adults will have a separate wing, divided by gender. Twelve to 17-year-olds will be admitted into a separate wing of the center. While there is an emphasis on serving the indigent and Medi-Cal patients, no one will be turned away.
Data has shown that nearly 50 percent of the patients in the former King/Drew Emergency Room had primary or secondary mental health issues. The Urgent Care Center provides a more cost effective and humane way to treat people with mental illness.
Although there are 15 medical professionals on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is not a sterile, cold and clinical setting. In fact, with its wood laminate floors, soothing yellow walls, cozy sleeping chairs and clean bathrooms, in the recovery area,it is more like a nice family living room where patients can stay for up to 24 hours.
“Twenty-four hours a day, you can bring in your loved one in,” said Luana Murphy, President/CEO of Exodus Recovery and Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which will operate the center. “Services here will be integrated. After they are discharged, no one will be sent to the street. We will have a plan.”
The Urgent Care Center will play an important role in the county’s efforts to redirect mentally ill offenders away from jails, where people with untreated illnesses currently constitute a substantial portion of the population.
“It takes a village and mentally ill citizens are some of our most vulnerable,” said Terri McDonald, assistant sheriff of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We can be proud of this step forward in reducing our reliance on jails to deal with our mentally ill.”
The center will be run by Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which has been providing psychiatric services in Southern California since 1989. The urgent care center brings additional medical services to the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center Campus, which already include the MLK Outpatient Center and Center for Public Health. The hospital is scheduled to open next year.
“Today, we move one step closer to the MLK Medical Campus we’ve been waiting for,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Director of Community and Integrated Programs for the Department of Health Services, noting that the center is a model of recovery and urgent care for mental health centers throughout the region.“It is this image that makes me excited to be here today as we look forward to the services Exodus will provide with its many campus partners for years to come.”
The new mental health urgent care center, which will open its doors September 4, will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will offer a variety of services including psychiatric evaluation and assessment, crisis intervention, medication support and medication management. In addition, individuals and families can receive treatment, alcohol and drug counseling and prevention, domestic violence screening and referrals to other community resources where people can seek help.
Too many people in Los Angeles County are in desperate need of psychiatric services and yet too few places are available to help. Hospital emergency rooms have become ground zero for psychiatric patients in need of help—making it a very expensive way to treat people with psychiatric problems.
The center will be run by Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which has been providing quality behavioral health services to disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders and chronic physical health issues. The organization has developed and established several hospital based inpatient and outpatient programs, a psychiatric and internal medicine provider group and a behavioral health managed care company.
While there is an emphasis on serving the indigent and Medi-Cal patients, no one will be turned away. Anyone over the age of 13 will be accepted but adolescents will be served in a separate space from the adults.
“These are the kinds of services people need to get back on their feet,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I am looking forward to opening this center as well as watching Exodus continue to build strong ties to community centers, faith-based organizations and housing resources to help those in need and at risk.”
For years, residents close to Los Angeles International Airport have had to endure the noise that comes from living near one of the nation’s largest airports. But help is on the way.
Eligible homeowners in Athens, Del Air and Lennox can apply to receive grant funding to minimize airplane noise in their homes. Due to changes in funding, property owners within those areas must immediately apply for benefits before the end of the year.
More than $20 million will be given by Los Angeles World Airports and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to soundproof 624 homes. Residents located within the boundaries will receive flyers, postcards and will be invited to community meetings to apply.
The project cost covers acoustical, architectural, engineering, construction and administrative activities. Construction contractors typically install double-paned windows, solid-core doors, fireplace doors and dampers, attic baffles, insulation, and other elements to achieve a targeted interior noise level of 45 decibels.
Since the early 1990s, Los Angeles County has operated a sound insulation program with funding from both Los Angeles World Airports and the FAA. To date, a total of $128-million has been allocated to help ease noise burdens for residents.
The grant is in accordance with the LAX Master Plan Stipulated Settlement Agreement reached in February 2006. The agreement calls for LAWA, the Los Angeles City department that owns and operates LAX, to provide up to $22.5-million annually through 2015 to the County of Los Angeles and the cities of El Segundo and Inglewood for noise-mitigation grants.
To find out if your residence is within the area please call Mercy Cavazos at the Economic & Housing Development Division: (626) 586-1798.
To report noise issues, residents can call LAX Noise Complaint Line (424) 64-NOISE or http://www3.lacdc.org/CDCWebsite/EHD/Programs.aspx?id=5335 .