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East LA Resident: Healthcare Crisis Could Mean Difference "Between Life and Death"

Yuan Feng |
October 6, 2013 | 3:13 p.m. PDT


Name: Mario Chavez

Mario Chavez/Yuan Feng, Neon Tommy
Mario Chavez/Yuan Feng, Neon Tommy

Neighborhood: East L. A.

Age: 36

Occupation: Director of Community Relations at St. John's Well Child and Family Center

What are the top issues facing Los Angeles, and why?

Well, there are many issues in South L.A., but since I work [in the] healthcare industry, I would say there is a healthcare crisis in South L.A.

We need to start to enroll in people into Medi-cal, Healthy Way LA, Covered California - into whatever healthy plan they qualify for. There is no major hospital with an emergency room in South LA for almost 1 million people. So I think it’s probably the biggest crisis that we have in South L.A.

What should Mayor Garcetti do to address your top priorities?

I think a good idea would be to create some healthcare commission or committee that proactively works with other private hospitals and [the] Federal Qualified Health Center - to do something proactive in the city of Los Angeles, similar to San Francisco - they have their own universal healthcare and that’s through the county. So, I think we should do something similar in LA.

Did you vote in the May election? Who did you support?

Yes, I did. I was a supporter of Eric Garcetti for mayor, so I actually went out and did phone banking. I think he is a working-class leader. He always supports the union.

He always supports the schools and immigrant rights. I’m a part of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, and he’s always been a supporter of immigration reform. I think he is a good progressive leader and I think he can make some changes to the city of L.A. 

Can you elaborate more about the health care issue you mentioned?

Well, currently in south L.A., there is very little healthcare info structure. So if you have a heart attack or some major condition, they have to rush you 10-15 minutes towards [the] USC health center or any other direction. But there is nothing local. So it’s a concern because, 10-15 minutes is between life and death. So that’s why I say there is the crisis in L.A.

So you think the mayor should build more health centers around South L.A.?

I think the mayor is limited obviously, because for example, like FQHC are federally founded, but I do think he does have the political power to really convene the conversation between the hospitals, the FQHCs, and the fire department to try to figure out how to make it more efficient- how to create a very proactive campaign where we educate the general public about the fact they could use FQHCs as primary health centers, [so that] they are not accessing healthcare through the emergency room, which cost taxes and a lot of money.

Reach Staff Contributor Yuan Feng here.



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