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By Tammye McDuff
Wesley Health Center [WHC], JSCH Institute officially opened their doors with a ribbon cutting ceremony, June 29, 2016.
Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Vasquez welcomed and introduced the many VIP’s that had come to present certificates, plaques and awards to doctors and staff. “Over 55 years ago, WHC began in west Los Angeles. Before it was popular to care about the uninsured, a group of community leaders came together because they understood the power of representing the vulnerable;” said Vasquez, “from a small clinic in the 1960’s WHC is one of the largest healthcare clinics in Southern California.”
October 1960 a group of Los Angeles County doctors stationed at the hospital had the foresight to create a private, non-profit public benefit corporation dealing with health services, health education and medical research. This private corporation provided services of the hospital through additional funding obtained either through grants, contracts or private funds. They named the newly formed corporation “The Attending Staff Association of John Wesley County Hospital, Inc.”
“Healthcare is something that is needed by everyone,” remarks Lucille Roybal Allard Congresswoman of the 40th Congressional District, “The clinic had a soft opening a few months back and they have over 800 patients a month already coming to the clinic.” Allard noted that the clinic will be able to handle up to 2200 patients a month. Her office presented Al Ballesteros, Chief Executive Officer WHC, with a beautiful Certificate of Recognition.
Don Knabe Supervisor LA county Board of Supervisors commented, “This is a great day for the city of Downey. Regardless of who did or did not read it – the Affordable Care Act was passed. The county of Los Angeles had to be ready.” Knabe continued stating for too long our local cities have not been able to help the many residents with health care. “Through WHC, PIH Health and the County of Los Angeles we have been able to being to solve this overwhelming problem,” he continued, “WHC treats residents and at the end of the day that is what is most important.”
The agency’s current mission is to improve the health and wellness of under-served segments of the population of Los Angeles County through the direct provision of health care, health education services and research. The mission is being accomplished through a variety of programs and activities, such as: medical outreach and referrals for medical care, HIV services and drug treatment; health education; psychosocial assessment and intervention; primary medical care; family planning services; and research.
Downey Mayor Alex Saab said, “The best way to judge a community, the best way to judge a business or a person is not by the amount of wealth accumulated in their life, but how they have treated the most vulnerable.” Saab stated that WHC embodies that statement and why their presence is so crucial to the community.
Dr. Natalie Nevins with World Health who is responsible for raising the funds for the new clinic said, “ We say in our organization, if anyone in any part of the world is suffering, then we are all suffering, and that is not acceptable. We are very proud and very grateful that this clinic will stand for many years. Al Ballesteros, Chief Executive Officer WHC, commented that the project faced many obstacles and challenges, but they finally made it. “Every day all across the South Bay there are people who need us,” says Ballesteros, “This is a federally qualified health center; we will never turn anyone away.”
Located at 8530 Firestone Boulevard in Downey, WHC offers Primary Care; Pediatric Care; HIV testing and counseling; family planning services; pregnancy test; diabetes care and dental services. The County of Los Angeles purchased the John Wesley Methodist Hospital and renamed it the John Wesley County Hospital.