Low-income health clinic gets OK to open

DOWNEY - A Bell Gardens-based healthcare clinic catering to low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients received unanimous permission from the Planning Commission on Wednesday to open a new location in Downey.Family Health Care Centers of Greater Los Angeles will open its clinic at 12113 Woodruff Ave., in a site previously occupied by Arc for its Senior Services department. According to a staff report, the health clinic will offer services in general adult and pediatric medicine, and family planning. An on-site dispensary room will store medications such as antibiotics, antihypertensive and diabetic treatments. No pharmaceutical cocaine or narcotic drugs will be stocked, officials said. Following the recommendation of city staff, the Planning Commission approved the clinic's request for an operating permit at Wednesday night's meeting. "It is staff's opinion that the establishment of this medical facility is not expected to have any significant negative impacts since no physical expansion of the existing building footprint is needed to accommodate it," community development director Brian Saeki and assistant planner Kevin Nguyen wrote in a report to planning commissioners. "The applicant is simply converting the existing building into a new medical facility." The clinic will initially only be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon, a representative for Family Health Care Centers told commissioners. If federal funding becomes available in the future, the hours could expand. Initial staffing calls for one healthcare provider, a medical assistant and one receptionist. The clinic works in conjunction with Los Angeles County to offer health services low-income and uninsured patients. People with insurance but insufficient coverage are offered plans with fees attached to a sliding scale. Regardless of ability to pay, no one will be turned away, officials said. Family Health Care Centers of Greater Los Angeles currently operates two non-profit health clinics in Bell Gardens and Hawaiian Gardens. Officials said an increase in patients residing in Downey led them to open a location here. "I think (the clinic) is a good idea," said commissioner Hector Lujan, who also is an administrator with Downey AYSO. "A lot of people are getting laid off from work and losing medical benefits. Working with kids, I know it's pretty tough. These are good alternive avenues for them." Commissioner Robert Kiefer also spoke in favor of the medical office. "I don't think there's an escalation of these types of clinics in our city," he said. Family Health Care Center's 10-member board of directors includes Dr. Binesh Batra, area medical director of the Kaiser Permanente Downey Service Area, and Mayra Majano, a volunteer at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.

********** Published: August 18, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 18