Kaiser Permanente (KP) Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical opened Thursday, September 7, to the community. The new facility in the heart of South L.A. is a step forward toward bringing easy access to healthcare in an area with specific needs. La Tanya R. Hines, M.D., OB/GYN, is about bringing those specific needs to the community.
“I am a California native, born and raised in South Central Los Angeles,” said Hines, “born and raised on 45th and Western, so I’m right down the street.” She remembers that this new facility sits on what used to be Santa Barbara Blvd and the many changes that have occurred over the decades.
Hines’ journey towards becoming a doctor is one that started with the influence of her family. Her grandmother was one of the first African Americans to attend Bishop College in Texas. Her grandparents would later move to California with no family or friends and put down roots.
“[Grandmother] absolutely believed in education, she believed in reading, so I, from a very, very young age, knew how to read and write well,” said Hines.
Hines remembers reading her grandmother’s medical books and still has one of them to this day. Her mother would be another influence although in a different way. At the age of 27, Hines’ mother had a stroke, an event which helped cement her pursuit of becoming a doctor.
“A physician, who wasn’t aware that she smoked like a chimney put her on birth control pills and she had an underlying history with high blood pressure,” said Hines.
She continued, “Birth control pills, of course back then, were three times the dose that they are now. So that was almost a death sentence for her but I watched her learn how to walk, how to talk and how to take care of herself and I was only eight [years-old].
“She taught me just—the tenacity and the strength.”
Hines was a part of a busing program in the late 70s and early 80s which then state Senator Diane Watson was instrumental in putting together. She was a part of the Gifted Program, which sent her from Normandie Elementary to Brentwood Science Academy.
Her exposure through the busing program would take her from Brentwood Elementary to Paul Revere Middle School and Palisades High School. Hines went on to attend UCLA and eventually received a full-ride scholarship at UC Irvine School of Medicine. She trained in general surgery at USC, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and held an OB/GYN residency at Martin Luther King Medical Center. Hines was also a part of a private practice in Pasadena for 11 years with Girlfriends Medical Group, which was like a “sisterhood” of medical specialists taking care of women’s health.
“It was a very full-circle—that 110 and that 405 freeway,” remarked Hines.
Eventually a friend approached her about working at KP, which gave her pause momentarily. Hines had come to enjoy helping her community and meeting it’s needs. On a second thought, she realized that she could be just as effective at KP as anywhere else.
“It’s just, being in the community in which you were raised, being able to give back and I’ve been part of the Association of Black Women Physicians—they’ve been around for 30 years,” said Hines.
She continued, “When you come from private practice, you’re like, oh no, I’m not cookie-cutter medicine and you got to work this protocol [but] you know what you realize? That systematic evidence-based medicine, in treating your patients, gives you consistent outcomes.
“I like that Kaiser says ‘no’ we’re going to do it like this and only when it don’t work, then we do something different.
“I’m filled with pride to say that I work for Kaiser.”
Hines is a dedicated doctor, something that is obvious after meeting with her. She believes that the community deserves physicians that understand the community. Hines understands this community and wants to help it understand the value of her and practice.
“I think sometimes many of our people, or just folks of color, feel like our old adages and our more holistic or natural ways—people look down upon,” said Hines. “If you can get enough folks that have that same kind of social upbringing, whether or not it’s true or not… I can appreciate when someone says well, ‘can I just take the apple cider vinegar and it’ll be alright?’
“Yeah, I can appreciate that, now that’s not evidence-based but you can believe it or not, there is something to be said for acidifying, whatever ‘she’ is trying to do in addition to, ‘well, if you’re willing to do that, could you add more fruits and vegetables?’
“’Can you see how that way is going to help?’”
She believes that a good healthcare system is victorious when all parts are working together in unison. Hines knows that taking care of one’s health depends, not just on good health insurance but the surrounding environment as well.
“I’m bought and sold on the thought that wellness is profitable” said Hines but she also adds that “it’s so profitable to be ill that we’ve got to do something different.
“As a community, we have been sold a bill of goods that you need health insurance because you need to take care of yourself when in fact, we are not addressing the bigger need and this is: it’s a food desert, you can’t exercise, it’s not a safe community, we need to do something about jobs—we need to systematically address all of that.”
At KP Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical, Hines believes she and the medical community there can make well-rounded health something achievable in the community.
“Kaiser has done an amazing job of making [health] disparities within our network narrow,” said Hines. “Any Kaiser, you walk in, you can get your blood pressure checked at any time, you can get a mammogram at any Kaiser that offers it—addressing the disparity.
“I look forward to, once again, just seeing folks who look like me and feeling like I’m having a serious impact in those lives which I believe, from OB/GYN, is healthy women make healthy families and that leads to what I hope is a healthy community.”
Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills–Crenshaw Medical is located at 3782 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA 90008. For more information, please visit https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/