Located on Avalon Blvd., just South of Gage, sits a small medical facility that has been waging a fierce fight in the war against COVID-19 from the very beginning. The battle started with the need for testing kits which originally were delivered to the West side of the city before South Los Angeles, mainly because Westside residents have better health insurance coverage than those residing in South L.A. But Jim Mangia and his staff were not going to allow the challenges and obstacles to halt their mission and resilient efforts in providing the best possible care to the community they serve. So, they had to work outside of the box and make a direct purchase of supplies from a supplier, so that their patients, who are mostly Black and Brown, could and would be tested.
Since that time, St. John’s has been testing for COVID-19 and treating those patients who have contracted the virus; most recently, the hospital is providing vaccinations for those in South L.A. who qualify, as the quest to slow down the spread of and ultimately end COVID-19 continues.
Jim Mangia, the president of the hospital, says that he and his staff have implemented a work flow and operational system designed to expedite the process of administering the shot to those interested in taking the vaccine. But their challenge is in insuring there is enough of the vaccine for everyone interested. “There is a shortage and we have to work with great speed to make sure we get the medication out,” said Mangia. He says the problem is not the fault of any local government agency but that the Federal Government has struggled to come up with means to adequate supply the vaccine to the people who want and need it. “So far, we have vaccinated about 10,000 people here in our community, but we need to make sure we have enough medication to ensure that the second dose is available to everyone.” he said.
Now, with the opening of the queue to those 65+, the need to make sure clinics have enough medication is becoming an even greater concern. But, Mangia is optimistic. “With the new administration coming on line, I hope they will pressure the pharmaceutical companies to ramp up production in order to serve our community.” He also wants to see access to the vaccine open up to everyone who wants the vaccine and that minority communities, like the ones he serves, should have the priority since Black and Brown people are the most vulnerable to the disease.
As far as getting vaccinated, while there has been a decent percentage of those with feelings of reluctance, as the vaccine rolls out, and more and more people receive it, more and more people are opening up to the vaccine as a viable option. In speaking to several people who have already been vaccinated, they all have stated that the side-effects were minimal with most only complaining of soreness in the arm. Elected officials like Supervisor Holly Mitchell, City Councilmembers, including, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Herb Wesson, and Curren Price, along with community leaders such as Brotherhood Crusade President, Charisse Bremond-Weaver, who all attended a press conference with President Mangia at St. John’s to encourage everyone within our community to become vaccinated as soon as allowed and to trust the science, and that the risk of the vaccine is far less risky than that of COVID-19.
The Sentinel is also encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and will continue to provide education resources to the community to ensure that everyone in our community can be vaccinated as soon as possible.