Denece Johnson remembers all too well having to stand for hours at Hubert Humphrey Medical Comprehensive Health Center’s urgent care facility to see a doctor or to get her prescription for high blood pressure refilled. There were never enough seats to fit the number of people in need.
But recently she marveled at the $7.8 million renovation that doubled the waiting room capacity and will soon offer more patient rooms to accommodate the need. No longer will patients have to use dilapidated, dark bathrooms, trip on upturned linoleum floor tiles or wait in the rain in the parking lot while they watch the time go by.
“People were in the parking lot, standing around waiting,” said the 59-year-old South Los Angeles resident. “It was sheer, pure hell. Facilities in South Central were overlooked for a long time. But now they are making this place to be decent.”
The renovation, which includes a large, clean and well lit waiting area with new chairs and televisions, was a priority for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ so that all county residents—whether they are insured or not—receive better healthcare service.
The Hubert Humphrey facility has approximately 126,000 visits —35,000 from the urgent care—every year for a range of ailments. The center’s specialties include optometry, ophthalmology, podiatry, gynecology and HIV prevention.
The expansion added 2,200 square feet to the urgent care center with the new waiting room, triage center, registration space and seven exam rooms which should be completed by the end of summer. In addition, a new air conditioning system was installed to replace the broken down unit which made the place unbearably hot in summer and an additional 50 parking spaces were added to ease congestion.
For Dr. Cesar Aristeiguieta, director of Emergency Medical Services at Hubert Humphrey, the new urgent care facility could not come too soon.
“The place was really run down,” he said. “Now the patients will also be much happier.”
With the Affordable Care Act, set to be implemented in 2014, more residents will be covered by affordable insurance and more federal resources will be invested in prevention. Hubert Humphrey is only one piece of Chairman Ridley-Thomas’ health and wellness strategy for his constituents. The opening of a new hospital, the Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center and plans for a Psychiatric Urgent Care Center on the Martin Luther King, Jr. campus in Willowbrook are key steps toward strengthening the county’s health system that will not only serve as engines for economic development and neighborhood revitalization, but also to bring a holistic approach to preventive medicine.
“We are focused on improvement of care and experience for our patients at county facilities,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will mean a new level of service and competition and that is a good thing. I look forward to celebrating more milestones as we endeavor to improve our health system.”