Community Clinic Re-opening Is Reminder of Importance of Health Care ‘Safety Net’

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Andres and Rosa Garcia sat patiently waiting for the grand re-opening program to begin, quietly recalling that it had been over 15 years since they turned to the Arroyo Vista Family Medical Center in Highland Park for their health care.

The temperature was rising and just a couple of hours earlier news broke that the U.S. Senate had released it’s version of a bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. If passed, the change could cut off health care insurance to tens of millions of low-income and middle class Americans, and potentially raise the cost of health insurance to the elderly five-fold.

Councilman Gil Cedillo greets Arroyo Vista Family Health Center patient while touring newly re-opened clinic with CEO Lorraine Estradas. (Office of Councilman Gil Cedillo)

Quality health care that is accessible and affordable is not something to be taken for granted, something the Garcias know firsthand.

“The people who work here [at Arroyo Vista] have always taken good care of us,” said Andres, appearing much younger than his 86 years.

“Everyone here is helpful and friendly, “ adds 81-year-old Rosa, explaining in Spanish that the couple uses the clinic’s dental and vision services as well as its primary health and medical services, a convenience they appreciate having close to their Highland Park home.

“Whenever we need to see a specialist they refer us right away, to White Memorial, and get us to the right doctor” to treat my ulcer and arthritis, Andres told EGP. Rosa says she appreciates that the staff “all speak Spanish.”

The couple was among several dozen people from the Arroyo Vista staff, board of directors, patients, professional and community partners and a local councilman gathered to mark the latest milestone in the community clinic network’s mission to provide quality, affordable and non-discriminating health care services.

Passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, increased the number of people in California and across the country with health insurance, swelling the demand for providers.

One of five community-based clinics and a mobile clinic operated by Arroyo Vista, the facility on North Figueroa Street was closed to patients for several months as it underwent a $1Million remodel, adding new state-of-the-art upgrades to better serve and accommodate its predominately low-income clients who range in age from newborns to the elderly. An on-site pharmacy allows patients to fill prescriptions with ease.

Arroyo Vista is a very important “safety net for this community,” said Steven Kasten, a Lincoln Heights businessman who served as MC for the grand re-opening ceremony and ribbon cutting. He recalled meeting Arroyo Vista CEO Lorraine Estradas 35 years earlier, marveling at her years of dedication and leadership in growing the clinic network.

Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) represents three of the neighborhoods where Arroyo Vista clinics are located. He said the importance of clinics like Arroyo Vista that treat patients with “dignity and respect” can’t be understated, especially as the country faces forces intent on “cutting Medicaid and health insurance for the poor” and “give tax breaks to the rich,” a reference to Republican House and Senate plans to unravel Obamacare.

“I know firsthand how important these clinics are,” Cedillo said. Years ago, “I was unemployed, without health insurance and then my wife was diagnosed with cancer,” he told the audience. He said he had to call on friends and acquaintances — build his own health care network — to get his wife the medical help she needed.

“My wife got help at clinics like Arroyo Vista,” which take care of people with few resources, no matter their income level or legal status, Cedillo said.

“We have a crisis in leadership,” Cedillo said. “We have to bring business and labor together” to champion the working poor as the country “suffers the policies of Trump.”

Arroyo Vista is doing a great job of providing quality care, and the community has to support its effort, the councilman said.

Tours of the newly renovated facility were offered following the formal program and ceremonial ribbon cutting. Traveling through the facility with Estradas and other guests, Cedillo stopped to shake hands with staff and patients, and ask what each thought of the changes at the clinic.

The responses were overwhelming positive, with doctors and patients alike remarking on the aesthetic improvements, but calling particular attention to changes that made the delivery of care more efficient and responsive to clients’ needs.

“My whole family comes here and we love it, they treat my kids really good,” said one mother, who told EGP she appreciates that the doctors listen to her.

There’s no doubt that challenges to the healthcare system are on the horizon. For Estradas that means staying true to Arroyo Vista’s mission of using all its resources to give their clients the best health outcomes possible.

“We are watching what’s going on very closely,” she told EGP. “We are constantly planning for whatever is to come down the road.”

 

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