Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Councilmembers Bernard Parks and Jan Perry
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
Dr. Tumani Leatherwood, physician in charge
Photos by Jason LewisThe opening of a new medical facility in South Los Angeles is a welcome sight for the community at the intersection of Manchester Boulevard and Denker Avenue. By Yussuf J. SimmondsSentinel Managing EditorThe weather was fine and the community was elated; the residents came out in large numbers to experience the opening of the new Kaiser Permanente South Los Angeles Medical Offices last Friday, along with elected officials, and Kaiser's officials and staff. According to Kaiser's statement, the newly constructed facility marked a major milestone in their commitment to a healthier South Los Angeles, and a $10 million investment in the community. The elected officials included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, City Council-members Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry. Kaiser officials included its president, Benjamin Chu, MD; Dr. Tumani Leatherwood, MD, who will be the physician in charge; and Dr. Jose Cervantes, the assistant physician in charge. The new facility is expected to open to the public on April 11, and will serve over 80,000 Kaiser Permanente members in the surrounding area.After a musical performance by one of the high school choirs, Dr. Leatherwood welcomed the guests and introduced her family who were in the audience: her husband, children and parents, and referred to "... today's event as a celebration." Then her assistant, Dr. Cervantes reiterated welcoming remarks in Spanish for members of the Latino community who were present. Kaiser's president, Dr. Chu also made some brief remarks expressing his and Kaiser's commitment to providing quality health care to the residents and he described some of the monumental efforts that went into producing the facility that the gathering had come to witness the opening of. His statement was, "Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to improving the health of people living and working in the communities we serve. With the opening of the Kaiser Permanente South Los Angeles Medical Offices, we reinforce our commitment to South Los Angeles, which we have been serving for the past 60 years. We will continue to invest in organizations and resources that help make South Los Angeles a healthier place," he concluded.Mayor Villaraigosa issued the following remarks, "The opening of the new Kaiser Permanente South Los Angeles Medical Office Building is one example of ways we can address the need for quality health care in the South Los Angeles community." The Mayor also referred to Elmae Robinson, the 81-year-old mother of one of his staff members, Brenda Anderson, who has been a Kaiser Permanente member for more than 30 years and is expected to be one of the first patients to be serviced at the facility when it opens on April 11. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in whose second district, the new facility is located brought words of praiseworthiness to the gallant efforts that resulted in the good news for South Los Angeles, and presented a county resolution to Dr. Leatherwood and the Kaiser team. This was followed by similar pronouncements from the city by Councilmembers Parks--in whose district the new facility is located--and Perry. Afterwards there was a ribbon-cutting attended by Parks, Leatherwood, Chu, Cervantes and several members of the Kaiser staff.Then those who wanted to were allowed to do a walk-thru of the 5,000 square foot facility that was designed environmentally friendly, and view the primary care area which consisted of X-rays stations, lab testing areas and a place for prescriptions pickup--all in one convenient location closer to home. In addition, members who visit the medical offices will have quick access to their health records and other health care information electronically. "Through our advanced technology, our physicians will be able to coordinate care with every other physician, pharmacist, and specialist that is treating our members," said Dr. Leatherwood, MD, the physician in charge of the facility. "With our electronic health records, expert physicians and staff all in place, we look forward to welcoming our members to our new South Los Angeles Medical Offices."