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Center for Community Health Opens on Skid Row

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009, at 01:22PM
Center for Community Health Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sits in one of the seven dentist's chairs inside the new Center for Community Health.

The new 21,000-square-foot Center for Community Health opened today on Skid Row, a partnership between the Weingart Center, the JWCH Insistute and the County of Los Angeles aimed at providing a full spectrum of health services for homeless and low-income individuals.

"I believe health care is a right, not a privilege," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa before cutting a ceremonial ribbon in front of the facility. "What you do here today is you really vindicate that idea that every one of us deserves quality health care."

The center, which offers medical, mental health, substance abuse, dentistry, ophthalmology and pharmacy services, came out of a 2003 Skid Row Homeless Healthcare Initiative created by the Weingart Foundation. A study conducted as part of the effort identified the lack of accessible primary care as a major issue for those without health insurance.

"This lack of access has caused homeless people to use the emergency room as their exclusive source of care," explained Paul Gregerson, Chief Medical Officer for the JWCH Institute. "Unfortunately, countless others have simply gone untreated."

JWCH will manage day-to-day operations at the facility, located at 522 S. San Pedro. They expect to see 9,000 patients annually.

Councilwoman Jan Perry praised the Center's integration of health care and mental health services. "It's just common sense," she said.

The Weingart Center led the capital campaign to raise the $5.5 million needed to renovate the building. The Weingart Foundation provided the Center's largest donation.


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