Caring for the Underserved in East LA

How AltaMed, a grassroots health clinic founded in 1969, is serving Hispanic-Latino communities through the coronavirus

AltaMed Health Services traces its roots to the East LA Barrio Free Clinic, a volunteer-run health center opened in 1969 by activists called the Brown Berets. This Latino social justice organization emerged from the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s with the goal of combatting discrimination and a lack of services in the community, including affordable healthcare.

In the above video, Zoila Escobar, Senior Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer and President of the AltaMed Foundation, shares how the staff and the patients have adjusted to the coronavirus, providing new ways of delivering care and what this means to the community's recovery.

With the onset of the coronavirus, its face-to-face model was quickly replaced. As California’s stay-at-home order kept patients home, doctors and nurses pivoted to telemedicine, and the center opened drive-through clinics to conduct coronavirus screenings. “If we were going to continue to do the work,” says Escobar, “we needed to learn how to provide care in an environment where people will feel safe.”

Some 50 years after its founding, AltaMed remains true to its mission of providing care to underserved residents of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, mostly people of color, most under-insured or uninsured. Now this nonprofit community health center sees some 350,000 patients a year at 52 locations, offering everything from pre-natal care to geriatrics.

Bank of America is supporting AltaMed’s work with a $500,000 donation, part of a $100 million commitment to help local communities adjust to, and recover from, the coronavirus. Learn more about the bank’s commitment to racial equality and economic opportunity, including its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment.

Originally published 7/13/2020