It all began with a conversation.
In 2003, a couple of CEOs of community health centers serving South Los Angeles began meeting informally to discuss some of the common challenges they faced as safety net providers.
Their challenges were unique to the South Los Angeles community that they served:
- Their patients exhibited significantly higher rates of many chronic diseases and preventable hospitalizations than patients in other local populations.1
- They battled an ongoing shortage of primary care and specialty care providers willing to practice in the area.
- Wait times of six months to a year (or longer) for patients to get appointments for specialty care were not uncommon.
- Patients were victimized by violence in their neighborhoods at greater rates than residents in other areas.
- King/Drew, the hospital that served most patients in the area, was failing and eventually closed.
- Despite greater local health care needs, the area, historically, received lower levels of funding from local, state, and federal sources.
Word spread, and soon more local community health center CEOs asked to join the conversations. They quickly recognized the value of raising a unified voice for the health care needs of South Los Angeles.
Conversations soon gelled into a committed coalition.
So, in May 2004, seven Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) joined to establish the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers. Together, they would raise one unified voice for the health care needs of South Los Angeles. Each signed an agreement to respect the others’ patients and goals. Richard Veloz, CEO of South Central Family Health Center, explains, “We look at actions everyone can benefit from without interfering with our own strategic goals.”
In March 2007, the coalition incorporated and later that year, in September, received 501(c)(3) designation.
Today, the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers is a network of eight FQHCs, representing more than 45 community- and school-based health clinics serving the South Los Angeles region (SPA 6). The Southside Coalition comprises the largest community clinic safety net in South Los Angeles.
Collectively, in 2012, our members provided 562,157 primary care visits to 158,033 (unduplicated) residents from the South Los Angeles area. About 52 percent of the patients were uninsured. For each patient our clinics serve and keep out of local emergency rooms for treatment, the county of Los Angeles saves about $1263.2
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Southside Coalition Membership: 345 Years of Experience in South Los Angeles
Combined, the member clinics of the Southside Coalition bring about 345 years of experience in providing health care services to the people of South Los Angeles. The eight members of the Southside Coalition are:
- Central City Community Health Center
- Eisner Health
- South Bay Family Health Care
- South Central Family Health Center
- St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
- T.H.E. (To Help Everyone) Health and Wellness Centers
- UMMA Community Clinic
- Watts Healthcare Corporation
All Southside Coalition members must be:
- A nonprofit organization licensed as a 330, 330 look-alike, free, or community clinic.
- Located in Service Planning Area (SPA) 6 or in the cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, or Lennox OR draw 60 percent or more of their patients from this geographic region.
Southside Coalition members share many commonalities:
- All are 501(c)(3) nonprofit FQHCs.
- All are licensed by the State of California as community clinics.
- All serve as medical homes to uninsured and underinsured men, women, and children, providing preventive, primary, diagnostic, and managed care.
- With 51 percent of our board members from the local community, all are community-driven boards.
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“You Deserve Affordable, Quality Health Care”
Implementation of the Affordable Care Act changed the way health care is practiced in the United States, especially in traditionally underserved communities like South Los Angeles. Its goal, like ours, is to ensure affordable, quality health care for all. As a result of Health Reform the Southside Coalition is:
- Expanding capacity to serve more patients in South Los Angeles
- Working to attract more primary care doctors and specialists
- Finding more ways to fill existing gaps in services for patients
- Increasing inter-clinic referrals to take advantage of more services and gain faster access to specialty care for patients
- Laying the foundation for partnering with the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital and other hospitals to enhance care
- Coordinating care to ensure all patients get the services they need in a timely manner
- Making the case for why patients should choose our member clinics as their medical home
When new patients come to us, they tend to be sicker than the general public, because they lack a primary care doctor and, often, have put off seeking medical care. Many are unable to pay for care. We believe that all people deserve affordable, quality health care. The Southside Coalition continues to search for the best ways to serve a South Los Angeles community in need of a safety net.
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How the Southside Coalition is Strengthening the Local Safety Net
The People We Serve
A View of the People Our Members Serve
1Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. 2010 (December). Preventable Hospitalizations in California.
2NACHC. 2011. Fact Sheet #1211.