Good things come to those who wait… and that phrase will soon ring true for the Crenshaw District and the surrounding community.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical Office Building celebrated a Topping-Off Ceremony, where a building under construction receives its last addition to the top of the structure. City Council president Herb Wesson, representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Karen Bass, Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, Assemblymember Autumn Burke, Senator Holly Mitchell as well as Kaiser Permanente West L.A. officials, staff and construction crew attended the event.
“It’s been up-and-down, at times it seemed we would never be here today,” said Eugene Cho, Chief Operating Officer for Kaiser Permanente West L.A. “As you can see—there is a building behind us here.”
“This facility would not be here without Herb Wesson,” said Howard Fullman, MD Area Medical Director for Kaiser Permanente West L.A. “When the chips were down and it was a little bit tough, and issues came up, it was Council President Wesson’s unwavering support and commitment to this community that led to this being done.”
Located on the corner of Marlton Avenue and Santa Rosalia Drive in the Marlton Square complex, the Baldwin Hills – Crenshaw Medical Offices was a project presented to the community in 2011-2012. Formerly known as Santa Barbara Plaza, Marlton Square had been a consistent eyesore within the community since the early 1980s and spent decades in development hell.
Kaiser Permanente was a welcomed brand of healthcare that many local officials and community members welcomed with open arms. Now, the new facility stands a year away from its grand opening offering convenient access to high-quality primary and specialty care services for members who live and work in the Crenshaw community.
“It’s complete happiness,” said Georgina Garcia, RN SVP, Area Manager of Kaiser Permanente West L.A. about the new Kaiser facility’s building progress. Garcia also spoke on what the community can expect from the new medical building in the neighborhood.
“Primary care and some specialty care as well,” said Garcia. “We’re building a true community space—a community room where the community will be able to use that space for coming together.
“We will also be able to offer sessions there, different workshops where we will invite the community in to come and join us whether they are members or not.”
“This building is going to deliver on our promise to this community to make sure that health is enhanced, that social determinates of care are addressed and that most importantly—everybody is given access to outstanding, first-rate Kaiser Permanente care in this community,” said Fullman.
The facility will be a cutting-edge, four-story medical office building complete with LEED Gold certification. Approximately 60 world class providers will treat the Baldwin Hills– Crenshaw members in technologically advanced exam rooms, equipped with the ability to conduct real time virtual consults with other Kaiser Permanente providers throughout the region.
Dr. Erique Emel, MD has been selected as the Physician-in-Charge (PIC) of the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills- Crenshaw Medical facility. Emel is a board certified pediatrician for Kaiser Permanente’s West Los Angeles Medical Center. He has provided leadership for several medical programs which include serving as PIC for Kaiser Permanente’s Inglewood Medical Offices, overseeing operations and delivery of care across specialties that include Family Medicine, Pharmacy and Radiology in addition to his practice.
“I am blessed and honored to be chosen to lead this facility as physician-in-charge,” said Emel. “I grew up in this community and it is a wonderful thing to see what has gone on through the efforts of all of us from the top all the way down to the bottom.”
As a part of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to building healthy communities, they are incorporating a 2.5 acres of “green” space, including a contiguous, two-mile walk path. The Baldwin Hills – Crenshaw Medical Offices will be a part of the West Los Angeles Medical Center Service Area, which includes nearly 220,000 members.
Wesson briefly spoke on the political climate that has many in a quandary and sparked protest throughout the nation. He wanted to remind everyone of the importance of how Kaiser Permanente is setting an example during a time of uncertainty.
“We have to recognize that we are L.A.,” said Wesson. “The winds in this country blow from the west to the east and we have a responsibility to show the way to go.
Here in Los Angeles, when we look out into a crowd and it’s not diverse, we have a problem with that. Every Kaiser Permanente that you go to, you feel as though you are walking into a United Nations building because we recognize that we are stronger when we work together.”
Turner Construction hired locally for the building of the Kasier Permanente Baldwin Hills facility. 2nd Call, a local nonprofit group, is one of the organizations that have benefited from those local hires, who along with Kaiser Permanente offered free workshop for individuals interested in pursuing a career in the construction industry earlier this year.
The Baldwin Hills – Crenshaw Medical Offices will serve over 50,000 members in South Los Angeles. For more information, please visit www.kp.org/baldwinhillscrenshaw