Let’s keep our promise to South L.A.

Child and Family Well-being Center Artist to Depict Local High School Students

In the heart of the Watt/Willowbrook community, on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, a first-of-its-kind Child and Family Well-being Center, is being built.  It will include an array of services from a Pediatric Medical Hub Clinic on the first floor, to an Autism Wellness Center on the second floor, and a Family Justice Center on the third floor—all staffed by several Los Angeles County Departments and community-based service providers to maximize collaboration and service integration.

“This is a testament to our commitment to the health needs of our children and a brighter future for all of us,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Sample portrait provided by Artist Floyd Strickland.

As part of this future, the multidisciplinary artist Floyd Strickland, who is leading the civic art installation at the Child and Family Well-being Center, has chosen to include the children of the Watts/Willowbrook community in his installation.  Mr. Strickland, whose work is inspired by classical European portraiture, will paint a series of large-scale portraits to depict local community members, including leaders, youth, and residents throughout the well-being center. His hope is that by displaying portraits of community members in a prominent manner, visitors and residents of the area who enter the Center will see themselves portrayed in a way once exclusively reserved for the wealthy and powerful members of society.

To select who would be featured for inclusion in the artwork, Mr. Strickland and his team worked with students at King/Drew Magnet High School on an essay competition.  The essay winners answered the following questions: What does the Watts/Willowbrook/Compton community mean to you? How can art serve as a vehicle for social justice and equity in your community? Why should you be featured in one of Floyd Strickland’s paintings?

“Today we are proud to announce the honorable mentions and winners,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in a message to the winners.

LA County Department of Arts & Culture Executive Director Kristin Sakoda congratulates the winners via Instagram video.

The announcement included honorable mentions included Leyonah Jones, Jesus Carrera, and Antonio Carrera and winners Daniel Garcia, Aaliyah Casares, and Rosario Rosales.

“You stood out for your thoughtful responses and will now become part of a civic art legacy that will enrich the Child and Family Wellbeing Center and stand the test of time,” the Supervisor said.

“Congratulations to the MLK Child and Family Well-being Center Essay Competition winners and runners up,” said Kristin Sakoda, Los Angeles County Art Department Executive Director, in a video message to the winners.

In addition to being depicted in one of Strickland’s portraits, winners will receive a cash prize of $700.

The Child and Family Well-Being Center is the latest addition to the MLK Medical Campus, which includes the MLK Community Hospital, MLK Outpatient Center, MLK Mental Health Urgent Care Center, MLK Recuperative Care Center, and MLK Center for Public Health, MLK Medical Office Building, and MLK Behavioral Health Center.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital Turns Five

Five years since its dedication, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital continues to provide outstanding medical care to patients from across South Los Angeles and beyond. The 131-bed community has a bold yet simple mission: providing compassionate, innovative and quality care to the 1.35 million residents of South Los Angeles – regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly, MLKCH CEO Elaine Batchlor, TV Host Shaun Robinson, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Aurelia Ventura / Board of Supervisors

On the eve of a weekend dedicated to celebrating the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., hundreds of leaders and supporters gathered to celebrate the hospital for the seventh celebration of its kind at the Music Center Grand Hall at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  This year, California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly was honored with the Health Champion Award while television host Shaun Robinson was honored with the Game Changer Award.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks the Seventh Annual Dream Luncheon at the Music Center Grand Hall at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Photo by Aurelia Ventura / Board of Supervisors

“The transformation we have seen in the community of Willowbrook has been nothing short of inconceivable,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.  “But now, not only has there been a transformation of the physical environment of the community we know as Willowbrook – in which the MLK Community Hospital sits at the center – we have seen a transformation of the health care eco-system.”

Los Angeles County invested $284 million to build the hospital, and provided another $171 million in startup funding before handing off responsibility for day-to-day operations to the private nonprofit Martin Luther King, Jr. Los Angeles Healthcare Corporation. It, along with the other facilities that make up the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, is also uplifting the quality of life in the community.

Twelve years after its closure, the building that once housed the original Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital building is being repurposed into the first-of-its-kind Martin Luther King, Jr. Behavioral Health Center. The MLK Behavioral Health Center is the latest addition to the 42-acre MLK Medical Campus in Willowbrook, which already houses the MLK Community HospitalOutpatient CenterRecuperative Care CenterMental Health Urgent Care Clinic, and Center for Public Health, which includes the Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center. The Child and Family Well-Being Center and the Medical Office Building are under construction and will open later this year.

Over the last decade, well over $1 billion has been invested in Willowbrook, dramatically improving the community’s amenities. In addition to the still-expanding MLK Medical Campus, Willowbrook has also seen improvements in its public transportation system, streets, parks and libraries, as well as a significant expansion in its pool of affordable apartments.


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Mega-Clinic Provides Free Healthcare to 1,000 Homeless People

More than 700 Healthcare Professionals Joined Care Harbor on November 15 to Help Those with Limited or No Access to Healthcare

Care Harbor, a nonprofit, volunteer-based charity, began its 11th annual event at The Reef in Downtown Los Angeles with a day solely dedicated to providing free healthcare services to people experiencing homelessness in the Southern California region.

Dental work for patients from Care Harbor.  Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

“The homeless crisis in Los Angeles is everyone’s problem,” said Don Manelli, president of Care Harbor. “That is why Care Harbor is devoting an entire clinic day to the special needs of those experiencing homelessness. There’s a great need to bring the basic healthcare services to those with no homes and poor access to healthcare.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a major sponsor of the event and a leader in the effort to provide housing for the unsheltered population, called homelessness “the moral crisis of our time.”

Eye examinations available on site. Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

“We don’t just have a housing crisis” the Supervisor said, “we have a healthcare crisis. We have a crisis of untreated addiction and substance abuse, of mental illness, of the trauma and suffering that comes with poverty.”

The lifespan for people who are homeless is cut short by 20 years relative to those who are not, he noted, adding that people experiencing homelessness have a 1 in 59 chance of dying on the streets. Put into perspective, that is double the rate of homicides in our County.

More than 58,000 Angelenos are experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County. For every 133 people that are housed through County services, 150 more become newly homeless.

Optometry and glasses provided at Care Harbor. Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

According to an October 2019 report released by the L.A. County Department of Public Health, the number of homeless deaths doubled from 536 in 2013 to 1,047 in 2018, but the death rate, which accounts for increases in the total number of homeless people, increased by over a third during that same period. The report cites coronary heart, drug/alcohol overdose, liver disease/cirrhosis and hypertensive heart disease among the leading causes of homeless deaths.

La Tina Jackson of the L.A. County Department of Public Health called for compassion for the most vulnerable population among those who are homeless — people struggling with mental illnesses.

Blood pressure taken. Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

“People with chronic mental illness are only a subset of the homeless population, but without question they are the most vulnerable; what is black and white, however, is the tremendous stigma faced by this population. But psychiatric illness is an illness,” Jackson said.

In 2018, Care Harbor piloted a program for the homeless, working with local missions, nonprofits, clinics and County agencies to provide healthcare services to this population. As a result of the success of the pilot program, this year Care Harbor worked with Los Angeles County departments and local shelters to arrange transportation to and from the clinic for homeless individuals and tailor services for this population.

In addition to providing a full range of integrative, patient-centered healthcare tailored to the needs of the homeless, the clinic will provide an expansive forum for social services and community resources. Services will also include post-clinic engagement and follow-up care, all of which are special challenges for this population.

On November 16 and 17, Care Harbor will open to members of the general public who already have a wristband and have signed up for services.

Care Harbor was founded in July of 2010 as a California-based nonprofit charity, with the vision that free health clinic events could be transformed from episodic to sustainable care.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas welcomes some of the youngest patients at Care Harbor.  Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

Remembering Bernard J. Tyson

Bernard J. Tyson on August 14, 2019, at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, during a conversation about homelessness, the first in the club’s new Destination Health series by Kaiser Permanente. Photo taken by Ed Ritger for Kaiser Permanente.

Bernard J. Tyson and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the Commonwealth Club on August 14, 2019. Photo taken by Fernando Ramirez for the Board of Supervisors.

On November 12, 2019 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adjourned in the memory of Bernard J. Tyson.

Born in Vallejo, California in 1959, Bernard passed away on November 10, 2019 in Oakland, California, at the age of 60. We lost a titan of our community. At the time of his passing, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kaiser Permanente.

He was an extraordinary individual, and what made him a titan – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you the same thing. He graduated from Golden Gate University with a Bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration degree and worked at Kaiser Permanente for more than 30 years. He began in the medical records department and rose to President and Chief Operating Officer, before being appointed to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2012. And in this role as leader to one of the most admired healthcare organizations in the country, his view of his responsibilities did not just begin and end at the boardroom table. Bernard was a stalwart and incredible partner in our statewide work to fight homelessness, changing the course of so many lives for the better.

Bernard received various accolades and recognitions, such as being named to Time Magazine’s 2017 list of the 100 Most Influential People, and 2018 list of 50 Most Influential People in health care. He also sat on the boards of such influential organizations as the American Heart Association. But as trailblazer to the highest reaches of corporate America as Kaiser Permanente’s first African-American Chief Executive Officer, it was his examples of heroism and enterprise that have given people of all backgrounds confidence, courage, and faith to pursue their own dreams.

On behalf of the Board of Supervisors and the Second District, I send the deepest condolences to his extended family, friends and colleagues, who will all miss him dearly. Let us pause and give thanks for the fact he was able to live a life full of impact and grace. May God bless his memory and keep him in peace.