LOS ANGELES – L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated health plan in the country, has awarded $500,000 to MLK Community Healthcare (MLKCH) to increase the capacity and capabilities of the MLKCH Post-Discharge Clinic treating South Los Angeles residents dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19. This is a timely investment given the new surge of the Delta variant. The expanded post-discharge clinic will add pulmonary rehabilitation, a critically needed service for COVID-19 survivors that had previously not been available in the greater South Los Angeles area. The clinic will also offer a wide range of multidisciplinary services to serve the full spectrum of a patient’s recovery needs.
“L.A. Care is determined to help address racial disparities that were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that means helping to increase care for those in the hardest hit communities, communities that L.A. Care serves,” said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. “Even during the midst of a pandemic that brought more challenges than ever, MLKCH was able to start the post-COVID multispecialty clinic, and we are proud to help expand its services.”
L.A. Care grant funding will be used to increase the number of COVID-19 long-haul and post ICU patients served to 900 during the first year of the grant award, increasing patients served by 556%.
“At one point during the pandemic, MLK Community Hospital had more patients than hospitals four times its size. Eighty-two percent of our inpatients suffered a comorbidity, like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, exacerbating their risk for long-term COVID-19 effects once they left the ICU,” said Elaine Batchlor, MD, MLKCH CEO. “We knew we needed a multidisciplinary team to treat these patients post-discharge to ensure a positive health outcome.”
In addition to the pulmonary rehabilitation services, the post-discharge clinic will expand nursing, case management, social work, mental health and critical care medicine services.
Elaine Stevens, an MLKCH COVID-19 patient who had been an active 74-year-old, developed acute respiratory distress syndrome. By the time she left the hospital, she couldn’t walk and had lost 20 pounds.
“Some days I gave up. I couldn’t even take one step, two steps, and I’d be so out of breath and so afraid that something would happen to me. I didn’t want them to leave me. I didn’t want to be by myself until my breathing came back,” said Stevens. “The love that the nurses showed me helped me make it. They were the only family I had.”
Those nurses have visited Elaine Stevens during her treatment at the post-discharge clinic and are thrilled to see that she is no longer in a wheelchair—and is getting stronger every day.
This grant, which was awarded through the health plan’s Community Health Investment Fund, is L.A. Care’s most recent commitment to the South Los Angeles community. The long-standing partnership between L.A. Care and MLK Community Healthcare includes a $500,000 award in 2017 to support the start of the advanced care clinic that evolved into the multispecialty Rosecrans clinic, critical in addressing COVID-19. Additionally, L.A. Care has also provided grants to hire much needed physicians and help a number of them pay off their medical loans through Elevating the Safety Net, a five-year, $155 million initiative to increase the number of highly qualified providers serving in the Los Angeles County safety net.
This grant is in alignment with L.A. Care’s commitment to advancing health equity for its members and their communities.
About MLKC Community Healthcare
MLK Community Healthcare is an integrated healthcare delivery system that serves the medically-underserved community of South Los Angeles. MLKCH offers emergency and inpatient care through its hospital, and primary and specialty care through the MLK Community Medical Group, with doctors’ offices in three locations throughout South LA. MLKCH also offers community health education and outreach to improve the health of our community. Since its opening in 2015, the hospital has earned awards and headlines for its innovative approaches to quality, safety and patient satisfaction.