Filling the health care gap in L.A. County’s most needy communities
An estimated three million people in Los Angeles County are uninsured, and for those who cannot afford medical care, one accident or diagnosis can put them on the path to financial devastation.
Many of those Angelenos who are insured lack access to basic health care, because they live in communities with an acute shortage of primary care providers.
While the toll of unfulfilled health care needs within L.A. County limits are immense, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) have broken many of the barriers to health care in the county’s poorest communities. Additionally, many of these “health care heroes” have customized their services to meet the unique needs of the communities they serve.
One organization, QueensCare, is doing exactly that; directly and with partner organizations, striving to provide accessible health care to uninsured and low-income working individuals and families who live in Los Angeles. As a faith-based organization, QueensCare offers a seamless system of health care that includes initial outreach, preventive care, primary care, specialty care and hospitalization.
As L.A. County is home to the highest numbers of uninsured residents in the nation, the need for an organization like QueensCare is great. By partnering with the Franciscan Clinics (dba) QueensCare Family Clinics (QFC), QueensCare is able to provide health care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. In fiscal year 2007, the six Franciscan Clinics recorded over 137,000 patient visits. And with the recent induction of the seventh clinic earlier this year, Angelenos now have additional options to access health care services.
FQHCs, such as QueensCare’s Family Clinics, bring about huge benefits to the greater American society, because they provide efficient and cost-effective care which decreases or eliminates the need for more costly care such as emergency room visits and preventable hospital stays. FQHCs across the country generate $12.6 billion in economic benefits for low-income, rural and inner city communities in Los Angeles.
QueensCare has created thousands of jobs in America’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. With a staff of over 220, QueensCare provides primary health care for children, teens, adults, seniors, and pregnant women. QueensCare provides dental and vision care in its offices and in mobile vans at public schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The organization also provides medicines, tattoo removal and health education. When needed, QueensCare refers patients to specialists and for hospital care. QueensCare Health Enrollers assist patients and direct them to low cost health insurance programs and services and offers a variety of services, including primary medical, dental, vision care and referrals for specialty services through a network of affiliated providers. Through its grant programs, QueensCare provides financial support for strategic health care partners, directly contributing to the reinforcement of the county’s health care safety net.
QueensCare has received many awards and accolades for its commitment to providing high quality health care to those who would likely otherwise go without. QueensCare’s services are filling a void that exists in our communities. It is “health care heroes” like QueensCare that are contributing to the overall health and well being of this city and nation alike. They continue to strive to bring quality primary health care that is accessible, compassionate, comprehensive, and affordable to the low-income communities of L.A. County.
- Yvonne B. Burke is a four-term Los Angeles County Supervisor representing some 2.5 million-plus residents in the County’s Second Supervisorial District.
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