One of the advancements that SCFHC
Genevieve Filmardirossian, SCFHC Chief Operations Officer, estimates that more than 60 percent of the patients the clinic sees are uninsured, and the remainder are either insured, under insured or receive Medi-Cal or some other type of assistance. Martha and Rafael Munoz, who sell hardware supplies at a local swap meet, rely on Medi-Cal. Filmardirossian emphasized the clinic’s focus on prevention and education.
“Our model is to heal, to empower and to educate the community,” Filmardirossian said, echoing the clinic’s motto. “We empower these patients to take care of themselves so they are healthy and they have better outcomes. If you take care of yourself and are able to control the illness that you suffer, you will not be a frequent user of the ER. We believe that staying healthy and prevention is the key to being healthy.”
South Central Family Health Center has been able to increase services thanks to a number of federal grants. In recent years, the clinic received Recovery Act assistance through the Health Resources and Services Administration, including $1.3 million in a New Access Point grant, $304,000 for an Increased Demand for Services grant and $1.6 million for additional construction, renovation, equipment and health IT.
With the added funding, SCFHC opened the Huntington Park Family Health Center in 2010, remodeled and expand its main location; added mammography and radiology rooms; added staff; and extend hours. The primary location is now open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
More recently, SCFHC received Affordable Care Act funds through Health & Human Services. The $500,000 grant received in May will go to the Huntington site and allow the clinic to provide dental care. “It’s just allowed us to meet the expanding need,” Ferguson said. “We have to grow to meet that growth in the community. There’s challenges that come along with that and we’re continuing to do what we can to try and meet those challenges.”
One of the advancements that SCFHC has made is in the department of medical records. Each exam room includes a computer terminal, where providers can enter updates, go over medication, schedule appointments and more.“The fact that a patient can call me and ask me a question about his labs, I can just look it up in the computer in a manner of a couple of minutes,” Dr. Aguilar said.
South Central Family Health Center also runs two school-based clinics at Jefferson High School and The Accelerated School, both in South Los Angeles. Ferguson stressed the relationship between education and health care, from primary care to addressing sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. While the clinic works to keep up with demand, South Central Family Health Center leadership wants to learn what it can do better and to get the word out about its services. To do so, the clinic has formed a Patient Advisory Committee.
“The main purpose for this is to have the patients be the voice of the clinic and to bring any concerns,” Filmardirossian said. “They volunteer to do work in the clinic. They provide information in the front office. They are all volunteers for the clinic. They are basically the voice of the community.” Fanny Ramirez, 58, has been a patient at SCFHC for approximately six months now. She works part-time as a housekeeper and does not have insurance. Ramirez lives in the area and heard about the clinic from a friend.
“I wasn’t being attended very well in the other place I was attending,” Ramirez said through a translator. Ramirez sought treatment for her an irregular heartbeat, as well as arthritis, poor blood circulation and cholesterol. She plans to join the Patient Advisory Committee. Rafael and Martha Munoz are also both on the Patient Advisory Committee. “There is something important for why we are in the committee,” Rafael Munoz said, with translation from his wife. He emphasized keeping the community healthy and out of the emergency room. “If the community is receiving good medical service, they won’t be in the emergency rooms of the hospitals. If there are people not getting sick it’s going to be more productive to the country.”