OnCentral | Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Patients in 'medical homes' may be more likely to get regular preventive care

South Central Family Health Center, pictured above, is currently in the process of applying for certification as a patient-centered medical home.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

People who don't have a consistent medical provider – a "medical home" – appear to be less likely to receive regular preventive care, according to a new health policy brief from UCLA.

In their report, researchers said a medical home – also referred to as a "patient-centered medical home" – is a place where:

  • A patient sees a regular doctor over an extended period of time, rather than jumping from doctor to doctor.
  • This regular doctor creates a personalized treatment plan for the patient.
  • The doctor coordinates the patient's care.

Mary Valencia, the quality improvement coordinator at South Central Family Health Center, said medical homes are "not the norm" in South Los Angeles. That, she added, often presents logistical problems – ones that can lead to poor health.

"What happens is there's not much coordinated care," she explained. "We have a very transient population. They often move, phone numbers are disconnected, they have a lot of domestic violence issues, a lot of immigration issues."


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CDC tells smokers to enlist their doctor's help in kicking the habit

A new ad campaign from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that smokers are more than twice as likely to quit when they've talked to a health provider about it.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A new government campaign is encouraging smokers to get their doctors involved in their efforts to quit, noting that even "brief advice" from a health provider "significantly increases" the odds of successfully kicking the habit.

More than 13 percent of South L.A.'s adult population smokes, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. That's slightly more than the countywide rate, which as of November had sunk to its lowest level in at least 15 years.

The Talk With Your Doctor campaign, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is hoping to continue that trend of decline by encouraging smokers to enlist their doctors and other health providers as a means of support, emphasizing that it "more than doubles the odds" that smokers will successfully quit.


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South LA program will attempt to fill 'gaping hole' between hospital and primary care

For South L.A. patients, the transition between hospital-based care and follow-up services in a primary care setting can be difficult. Around early July, a new program from the Southside Coalition of Community Health Clinics will attempt to smooth out that transition.
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

A new program will attempt to help bridge the gap between primary and hospital care for South Los Angeles patients, who all too often "get lost in the system."

That's according to Nina Vaccaro, the executive director of the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers. The group, which is comprised of eight federally-qualified health centers in South L.A., is developing a program that would place two "care coordinators" at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. The goal is to help area patients navigate the often-confusing transition between hospital-based care and primary care to get the follow-up services they need.

The eight member clinics of the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers (in blue) and St. Francis Medical Center (in red).

Vaccaro said there's currently a "big, gaping hole" where that transition should be.


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Where do you go to find peace and quiet? In South LA, it can be a challenge

A bench outside Senshin Buddhist Temple in South Los Angeles.
José Martinez/KPCC

Click on the map & share how you escape from the city.


Makadu Labeet is a towering 56-year-old Gardena resident who originally hails from the Virgin Islands.

Every other day, he arrives at Vermont Square Community Garden in South Los Angeles around 7:30 a.m. and begins his work as the land's "unofficial caretaker."

Overall, the garden is in good shape, although some plots could use a little more tending. But for Labeet, this is much more than a garden. He calls it a "sacred ground" – one that offers refuge from the chaos just beyond its gates.

"We don't have problems in here," he said. "It's like, out there in the world, people be cussing and fighting going by, and they don't even know you're here."

That "cussing and fighting" is part of the reason it's so hard to find tranquility in South L.A.: It's loud. The noise of buses leaving their stops, music blaring from cramped storefronts, territorial dogs barking, angry motorists honking – it all comes together to create a headache-inducing cacophony. Those who can't remove themselves from that every once in a while can face serious quality of life issues – which is part of the reason why Labeet so enjoys his time in Vermont Square.


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LA-themed condom campaign aims to spread awareness, stop disease

The winning design for the official L.A. condom contest. These condoms made their debut at the Long Beach pride festival last weekend.
L.A. County Department of Public Health

There's a new condom in town and it's dressed up for its Los Angeles-debut — in a bow tie.

It also has the line "suit up," and is part of an effort by the L.A. County Department of Public Health to stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

This condom design was selected last year from 500 entries, as part of a competition launched by the health department. And what better way to distribute the condoms than in a 40-foot-Condom Mobile, which made its grand debut last weekend at Long Beach Pride.

The RV is covered in images of shirtless, athletic-looking men with the slogan "Game on. Suit up L.A." written underneath them. With the help of the Lambda Basketball League and the L.A. Condom street team, more than 8,000 L.A. condoms were distributed over the course of two days.


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