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

Teen birth rate in US at a 'historic low'; South LA's is still highest in the county

In 2011, there were about 31 teen births for every 1,000 teenage girls; In 1991, the rate was double that.
Daniel Lobo/Flickr Creative Commons

The teen birth rate across the U.S. was at a "historic low" in 2011, and the mean age of mothers has risen to about 26. 

That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which released finalized data on births in the U.S. on Friday.

But the rate remains stubbornly high in South Los Angeles.

In 2011, there were about 31 teen births for every 1,000 teenage girls in the U.S., according to the CDC. That marks a steep decline from 1991 and 2007, when the teen birth rate was about 62 and 42 births per 1,000 girls, respectively.

South L.A., on the other hand, has the highest teen birth rate in L.A. County, according to the public health department: about 51 births for every 1,000 teenage girls. For comparison: L.A. County's overall teen birth rate is about 34 births per 1,000 girls.


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After-hours park program aimed at helping reduce gang violence begins in LA

Summer Night Lights youth squad members serve up food at South Park.
Juan Posada

Wednesday kicks off the latest season of Summer Night Lights, an anti-gang initiative meant to curb violence by keeping L.A. parks open after-hours.

Now in its sixth season, the program takes place at 32 public parks throughout the city, which are chosen based on their proximity to areas with high rates of gang-related crime. In South L.A., there are multiple parks participating, including South Park and Ross Snyder Recreation Center.

Run through the Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) program, Summer Night Lights takes place Wednesday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at each park. According to the mayor's office, evening hours are the peak time for gang activity. Through GRYD, residents are offered alternative activities such as sports, fitness and arts and crafts.


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Feds launch website, 24-hour phone number as Affordable Care Act enrollment nears

New patients await processing at UMMA Community Clinic in South Los Angeles. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a revamped website and new 24-hour number on Monday aimed at helping people prepare for open enrollment in the state health insurance marketplaces, called exchanges.
Christopher Okula/KPCC
Covering California series icon 2013

The Obama Administration launched two new resources on Monday to help people prepare to enroll in state health insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, starting in October.

One was a revamped HealthCare.gov website, which includes a questionnaire that helps users see what options they'll have for insurance when open enrollment begins in October. The site, which also offers the option of chatting with a customer service representative, answers questions about health care reform in general, but directs California residents to the website of the state's exchange, called Covered California.

The other was a 24-hour number people can call to ask questions about the health insurance marketplaces: 1-800-318-2596.

Both the website and the phone line are available in Spanish, and the phone line can also help callers in more than 150 languages through an interpretation service.


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Historic Dunbar Hotel set to reopen as part of $30 million apartment complex

The renovated lobby of the new Dunbar Hotel, which has its grand opening next week.
Courtesy of Thomas Safran & Associates

What was once the epicenter of South L.A.'s prolific jazz scene is now a multi-unit housing complex for seniors and low-income families slated to open June 26.

The $30 million renovation of the Dunbar Hotel and surrounding buildings – dubbed Somerville I and Somerville II (a nod to the hotel's original name) – has transformed the South Los Angeles area into the new Dunbar Village. The complex has a total of 83 apartments with rents ranging from $437 to $875 per month.

“Central Avenue and the Dunbar Hotel have long been an important part of our Los Angeles history. It is wonderful to see the Avenue come alive again and know that this historic landmark has been restored,” said area Councilwoman Jan Perry in a statement.

Each apartment unit is described as having new carpeting, vinyl flooring and a modern kitchens equipped with appliances. Apartments range in size from studios to four-bedroom units. The Dunbar Hotel is designated for seniors 55 and older, while the Somerville complexes are reserved for families and Section 8 housing.


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FDA: Plan B contraceptive available to all – but could price hinder access in South LA?

The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step is now available to women of all ages over the counter.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday it has officially approved the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step for over-the-counter sale to all women of childbearing age. 

The announcement comes a little more than a week after the Obama Administration said it would cease its effort to restrict the sale of Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill.

Health providers and professionals in South Los Angeles have said the morning-after pill is an important tool in the effort to reduce the area's teenage pregnancy rate, which is the highest in L.A. County.

But for an under-resourced community like South L.A. – which relies largely on the social safety-net for health care services – the FDA's announcement comes with an important caveat: Restrictions aren't being lifted on the generic, cheaper versions of the morning-after pill.


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