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First full-service clinic opens in L.A.

August 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The first full-service health clinic in L.A. County officially opened Friday.In the heart of downtown El Monte the first steps were taken toward filling what some call a healthcare void.

"For every 10,000 people, here in this community, there is one physician. In Iraq for every 1,500 people there is one physician. There is a huge disparity," said Dr. Cristian Rico, AltaMed Family and Wellness Center.

Low income patients with limited or no insurance had few places to go.

"I would go clinic to clinic or wherever I could find a spot," said Evelyn Valencia.

Now Evelyn Valencia says she's found a medical home at the new AltaMed Family Health and Wellness Center. The 32-thousand square foot state of the art facility serves everyone from the babies to grandparents.

"That's great because it is one facility for everybody. You don't have to travel different places and I like that," said Valencia.

If you are part of a busy struggling family you don't have a lot of opportunity to take off for medical care.

Planners of the facility pride themselves on being able to have physical health, mental health all available under one roof.

"We do have our own pediatrician, internal medicine physician, an OBGYN, and a surgeon. We do provide HIV services as well. We have our own dentist and our adult day care center," said Dr. Rico.

The adult center provides fitness equipment, social activities, even psychiatric care. Right after a doctor's appointment, senior patients can go directly to therapy.

"We really believe that we now have the model for the future of providing care for communities in need," said AltaMed CEO, Castulo de La Rocha.

The AltaMed Center takes Medi-Cal and all insurances. And even though it's expensive to run a huge clinic staffers say they don't turn anyone away.

"Our mission is to provide access to people in need. One way or another we are going to get that accomplished," said Castulo de la Rocha.

The health and wellness center is financed with government money and corporate and private donations.

The clinic will feature digital dental technology, electronic medical records and new smart chip equipment for physical therapy.

 

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