AltaMed providing voting options at clinic sites to provide better access for patients

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Saturday, March 2, 2024
AltaMed hosting voting centers at clinic sites in L.A.
AltaMed Health Services is offering voting sites at 16 clinics to help expand their patients' access to civic engagement.

COMPTON, Calif. (KABC) -- Catalina Fuentes and Reina Sanchez are both AltaMed patients who recently became U.S. citizens, and are first-time voters.

Friday morning, Fuentes cast her vote at one of AltaMed Health Services' flex voting centers in Compton. They currently are hosting about 16 voting centers at clinics to provide more access to their patients.

"For us it was really powerful," said Lizette Escobedo, vice president of government services for Altamed. "But it was also powerful to help them have that access and help them navigate the process because it is a daunting task for many in our community."

AltaMed launched the "My Vote. My Health" campaign in 2018 to address the social and political impacts on health. AltaMed's chief health correspondent and medical affairs officer Dr. Ilan Shapiro says voting is a big part of healthcare.

"The important thing right now is making sure we are talking about our civic health. That's actually with voting," Shapiro said. "Making sure that our voices are counted because 20% of our health depends on our healthcare system, but 80% is the air that we breathe, the things that we eat and other things that are outside of the control of medications."

AltaMed associate director of civic engagement Cynthia Romo says as a community health center that's been in the community for 55 years, social justice is engrained in their DNA.

"We're taking it a step further since 2018, to create 'My Vote. My Health,'" Romo said. "So, bringing accessibility to our community regarding voting, regarding being counted in the census, regarding redistricting, one is having a voice and being at the table when decisions are being made."

Since 2020 in partnership with LA County, AltaMed has hosted 64 mobile voting centers and flex vote sites. More than 1,000 voters have voted at their locations.