Rashod Conkrite: Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center
In the midst of a global pandemic, healthcare workers have become our everyday heroes. But doctors and nurses aren’t the only ones working tirelessly to battle COVID-19. Many other individuals who are not in the medical professions have stepped up to support the health and wellbeing of the people in the Second District.
During the month of August, this series will recognize some of the essential, yet non-traditional, health workers who courageously stand on the front lines of this crisis and make a significant contribution to their communities.
Spotlight on Martin Luther King Jr., Medical Campus: Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Medical Campus has been home to LA County COVID-19 testing sites. Thousands of residents and families have visited the sites to gain access to free testing and slow the spread of the virus.
Recently, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas visited the MLK Outpatient Center to distribute 100,000 N-95 masks and thousands of care kits with food and hand sanitizer in a partnership with the private sector to help communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
The MLK Outpatient Center is where hundreds of patients are triaged daily at the testing Surge Tent. Those who arrive in their vehicles are welcomed by Rashod Conkrite.
Meet Rashod Conkrite: Rashod is the Carpenter Supervisor for MLK Outpatient Center. He was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, and lives across the street from the home where he grew up, which his parents still own.
After spending years in the private sector, Rashod pursued a career in carpentry so he can better support his family. Originally just a hobby, carpentry turned into a calling for Rashod when he discovered that he had a gift to see beyond the tangible, to envision, to create —and ultimately to build.
Upon completing trade technical school, the County of Los Angeles hired Rashod as a Carpenter in 2016. Within just two years, his gift for carpentry and leadership earned him a promotion to Carpenter Supervisor at MLK Outpatient Center, where he worked to fulfill the facility’s mission statement: “building and maintaining a safe and comfortable environment that ensures quality health care for our patients.”
Even though Rashod may not wear a white coat, the infrastructure he and his carpentry shop continue to build is deeply important to supporting the treatment and healing of patients. When the pandemic prompted MLK Medical Campus to host testing sites, Rashod was called upon to supervise traffic control at the drive-through testing queue, and help manage the information provided to patients.
To Rashod, carpentry is a career that has its rewards in serving the community and making people smile.
“We make sure that patients get the care that they need by making sure that the health care workers providing that care also get what they need, whether it be a new desk or building something,” said Rashod. “When we make the health care workers’ jobs easier, it reflects when they take care of patients.”
Serving the community during a pandemic, however, is a challenge. With managing staff, community walk-ups, drive-through testing, testing appointments and interacting with hundreds of people daily who are concerned with their health and safety, Rashod’s work is not easy.
Despite the exhausting demands the pandemic has placed on Rashod and his carpentry team, Rashod is proud to help during strenuous times. “It can be overwhelming; however, it has established a fortitude in me that can never be broken and provides me with the comfort of knowing that by being a part of a team at MLK Outpatient Center, I’m making a mark that cannot be erased.”
A Typical Day for Rashod:
Before the pandemic hit, Rashod’s days typically consisted of carpentry work and maintenance work. Now, in response to COVID-19, Rashod and his shop have been charged with safely guiding sometimes up to 1,000 people a day through the testing site in their cars.
“We were no longer doing what we were hired to do as carpenters,” said Rashod in response to his duties shifting in the wake of the pandemic, which have been instrumental in increasing access to testing in the Second District. “Seeing how many people came to get the care and testing they needed—including people with disabilities who couldn’t stand in line—really stuck with me.”
Thanks to Rashod and his carpentry shop, some of the most vulnerable residents in LA County are able to access testing that will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.