South LA welcomes new medical center

Artist's rendering of new South L.A. Kaiser Permanente medical center
Artist's rendering of new South L.A. Kaiser Permanente medical center
Courtesy Kaiser Permanente

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Elected officials, hospital administrators and health care activists are celebrating a new medical center in South Los Angeles.

Long-time Kaiser Permanente member Norris Byrd said she’s thrilled the non-profit medical group opened a facility that’s practically in her own backyard.

“We as a community needed this so much. We have longed to see this is in South LA," she said.

Byrd is among 80,000 members in South L.A. that Kaiser says it intends to serve. The 15,000 square foot medical center is located on Manchester Avenue near Inglewood. The project cost $10 million.

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took a tour on Friday with other city officials and medical staffers.

“I actually believe that if America’s going to get to the point where every American has health care when we can truly say it’s a high quality health care, this is the model," said Villaraigosa. "It’s gotta be non-profit.”

The two-story, eco-friendly building includes a pharmacy, examination rooms and offices. The lobby displays a glass etching dedicated to the late Dr. Fred Alexander -- Kaiser’s first African-American medical director. Colleagues say he was a strong advocate for diversity within the medical profession.

Dr. Tumani Leatherwood, head physician at the new medical offices, says her team will work to preserve Dr. Alexander’s legacy.

“I can tell you now that this staff has some goals," Leatherwood said. "And one of their primary goals is to try to encourage more youth especially from this community to go into careers in health and come back and serve as leaders like we have.”

Kaiser Permanente South Los Angeles will provide primary care services including X-rays, prescriptions, mammograms and health classes. The center’s staff will begin seeing patients April 11.