Quality, affordable health care should be available to everyone. It was that premise that led to the creation of AltaMed more than 50 years ago.
Every August, community health centers like ours celebrate our commitment to the populations we serve during National Health Center Week. In the second week of every August we work to raise awareness about our mission and accomplishments which span five decades.
This year is particularly poignant given the struggles we have all faced through the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve worked hard to provide resources to help keep you informed throughout this ordeal, like:
- How to protect against the coronavirus
- Ways to spot COVID-19
- Talking to your kids about COVID-19
- Mental health resources for getting through lockdown
- Providing facts about the vaccines, and more
But long before there was COVID-19, there’s been AltaMed.
AltaMed started in 1970 on Whittier Boulevard as the East LA Barrio Free Clinic. The clinic filled a gaping void left by health care systems and hospitals that didn’t see the value in serving a vibrant, diverse community.
Seven years later, community organizer and activist Cástulo de la Rocha got involved after seeing his friends regularly standing in lines that wound around the block to access services from our storefront clinic. He worked to create a “whole community” approach to health care that turned the Barrio Free Clinic into one of the area’s largest health care systems with more than 50 sites staffed by 3,200 professionals and serving 300,000 people each year.
The focus — led by our President and CEO Cástulo de la Rocha — is on eliminating disparities in health care access and outcomes for multiethnic communities all over Southern California.
Accomplishing that means understanding the unique needs of everyone we serve and putting that into the context of their ethnicity, gender, and even neighborhood. We look beyond the clinical to find community resources to help the entire community live healthier, even going to far as working with elected officials to make missing resources a reality.
AltaMed also engages a workforce development program and medical residency emphasizing local service. Staff and physicians reflect the neighborhoods they serve because they’re from those same neighborhoods.
Beyond the Southland
AltaMed serves more than 300,000 people each year, but that’s just 1% of the 30 million patients nationally who count on the care of community health centers. They fill the gaps left by health care and hospital systems who focus on patients with insurance and the ability to pay.
Community health care centers are focused on serving for those who would slip through the cracks otherwise.
There will be a different focus each day of National Health Center Week.
- Public Health in Housing Day, Sunday, Aug. 8
- Health Care for the Homeless Day, Monday, Aug. 9
- Agricultural Worker Health Day, Tuesday, Aug. 10
- Patient Appreciation Day, Wednesday, Aug. 11
- Stakeholder Appreciation Day, Thursday, Aug. 12
- Health Center Staff Appreciation Day, Friday, Aug. 13
- Children’s Health Day, Saturday, Aug. 14
AltaMed Is Here for You
We bring you convenient, culturally sensitive care. But to help our communities grow healthy, we help with equitable access to schools, good jobs, healthful foods, essential services, and elected officials who reflect and respect the people they serve.
It takes a community, and we’re your community health center. We’re committed to educating, engaging, and mobilizing our members, our staff, our partners, and our leaders. Learn more about our ongoing efforts and initiatives.