Caring for the underserved in East LA

How AltaMed, a grassroots health clinic founded in 1969, has helped 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 community-based organization emerged from the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s with the goal of combatting discrimination and a lack of services in the Latino community, including affordable healthcare.

In the above video, Zoila D. Escobar, senior vice president and chief administrative officer at AltaMed Health Services and president of the AltaMed Foundation, shares how the staff and the patients adapted to serving community needs during the coronavirus, including finding new ways of delivering care, and what this has meant to the community's recovery.

With the onset of the coronavirus, as California’s stay-at-home order kept patients home, doctors and nurses pivoted to telemedicine and the center opened outdoor 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.”

More than 50 years after its founding, AltaMed remains true to its mission of providing care to underserved residents of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, most under-insured or uninsured. Now this federally qualified community health center sees more than 300,000 patients a year at 61 locations, offering everything from pre-natal care to geriatrics.

The support for AltaMed is an example of Bank of America’s commitment to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity in local neighborhoods around the country. From entrepreneur funding and expanding home ownership to professional skills training and healthcare access, Bank of America continues to partner with innovative leaders to help communities implement solutions to society’s biggest challenges. 

Originally published 7/13/2020