In partnership with Moldex, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas donated 15,000 N95 masks to the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County (CCALAC), the largest regional association of community and free clinics in California.
The N95 masks were distributed to several CCALAC member clinics throughout Los Angeles County’s Second District, including T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers, which hosted the giveaway event. A mobile clinic was also on-site to provide COVID-19 testing.
“The COVID-9 pandemic has only exacerbated health disparities prevalent in communities of color. CCALAC clinics are the workhorses of our health care system, providing critical primary care services to countless individuals and families, giving them a safe and accessible place to receive affordable care from the doctors, nurses and other staff who are woven into the fabric of their community,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “With N95 masks, we can ensure these essential staff have the essential equipment they need to protect themselves and their patients from a pandemic that has made low-income people of color particularly vulnerable.”
“Community health centers have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, serving the communities most impacted by this pandemic,” CCALAC President and CEO Louise McCarthy said. “Of the 1.7 million Angelenos served by health centers, 79 percent are low income. Recent analysis shows that low income communities have over 3 times as many COVID cases as wealthier communities in LA.”
“Health centers are committed to keeping their patients safe while providing critical medical, dental and behavioral health services,” she added. “This protective equipment is vital to ensuring the safety of our health care workers and the communities they serve. We are thankful to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas for his unwavering support of our work.”
T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers President and CEO Clifford B. Shiepe added, “The COVID-19 pandemic required the T.H.E. staff to be flexible, resilient, and exhibit the highest professionalism while simultaneously easing fears and showing compassion and kindness towards their colleagues and our patients. We are incredibly grateful and overwhelmed by the support from community members and leaders who lift us up and provide our frontline staff with enough PPE to ensure everyone’s safety. Knowing all are protected and able to provide much-needed care with ease helps to eliminate a lot of fears.”
With a wide array of medical, dental and behavioral health services, health centers in LA County’s Second District serve more than 400,000 residents annually, most of them uninsured or publicly insured.
These health centers have stepped up to the challenge of COVID-19, offering drive-up and walk-up COVID-19 testing in their parking lots, and sending their staff to Project Roomkey sites and homeless encampments to bring care to those who need it most. Project Roomkey repurposed vacant hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable, elderly homeless people who have no symptoms but are most at risk of contracting COVID-19.
In the Second District, St. John’s Wellchild Clinic not only provides walk-up testing but also sends its mobile van and staff to Project Roomkey sites to provide COVID-19 testing and other critical health care. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has partnered with St. John’s Mobile Clinic to provide weekly testing at markets, churches and other community-based settings across the Second District this fall.
Altamed, meanwhile, provided staff to help LA County operate several COVID-19 community testing sites.
T.H.E. has served underinsured, low-income and vulnerable residents of South Los Angeles since 1974. Through a patient-centered medical home model, T.H.E. integrates a range of services for all genders and ages. Services include adult and pediatric medical care; oral health care and education; HIV/AIDS screening and treatment; women-focused care (pregnancy and perinatal care, mammography, family planning and reproductive health); chronic disease management and education; nutrition, behavioral health; and substance use disorder treatment.
T.H.E. has six sites, including a Mobile Clinic and two School-Based Health Centers, that collectively served 14,897 patients in 2019. During the pandemic, T.H.E. reopened its Crenshaw High school health center to provide outreach to teens, focusing on mental health and wellness.