For the past 11 years, the streets of Crenshaw Blvd. between Stocker Blvd. and Rodeo Road have been flooded with over 350,000 people in attendance at the highly anticipated annual Taste of Soul (TOS). Although the TOS is primarily known for its wide variety of foods and desserts, live performances, and community resource booths, it is the TOS health providers who remind community members the importance of health, wellness and family. This week in Black History, the Sentinel pays homage to the 2016 TOS health providers and volunteers who have played a part in making the largest street festival in Los Angeles a success.
T.H.E Health and Wellness
To Help Everyone (T.H.E.) Health and Wellness Centers have provided care to vulnerable populations both under insured and un-insured regardless of their ability to pay for more than four decades.
“When you come into the T.H.E. doors, all I see is a human being,” said Chief Medical Officer of Women’s Health at T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers Dr. Tracy Robinson. “If you don’t see humanity in someone, the first thing you see is the color of their skin, that is a reasonable approach, but sometimes you get lost in the quality of care you are providing. That’s the reason why our mantra is healing the body and raising the spirit.”
T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers has locations in Western, Lennox, Crenshaw, La Brea, Dorsey and Hawthorne.
The 2016 Taste of Soul wasn’t T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers first Taste of Soul. This year, T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers provided emergency care services to TOS goers.
“It was a great experience,” said Dr. Robinson. “It was fun, it was a learning experience and I think we met our goal. Our goal was to provide care and I think we were successful in that.”
Dr. Robinson believes events like Taste of Soul help celebrate Black culture.
“It is important for our culture to be celebrated, recognized, and appreciated for its diversity,” said Dr. Robinson. “I am especially proud to participate in something that celebrates all of the achievements that we are able to bring to the table, and an event like Taste of Soul can do that because you can see the artistic side. You can see the clinical side, you can see the community advocacy side, you can see from a small business trying to promote their product to community building relationship with larger fortune 500 companies. I think it is amazing to celebrate our impact on this world as well as Los Angeles. We are amazing people.”
As far as future business plans are concerned, T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers are ever-growing. The medical providers are expanding their care for pediatric populations and are hopeful to be able to expand their services to the families of those children as well.
For a complete list of T.H.E. Health and Wellness Centers services visit http://tohelpeveryone.org/ or call (323) 730-1920 Ext. 3062.
St. John’s Well Child and Family Mobile Clinic One
St. John’s Well Child and Family has two mobile clinics, mobile one and mobile two which specializes in working with homeless patients and providing services to women’s shelters and alcohol centers.
“We do just about everything you can do at a normal clinic,” said St. John’s Well Child and Family Mobile Clinic One Medical Assistant Monica Mitchell. “We provide full physical exams for kids and adults, STD screenings, condoms and contraceptives, vaccines, TB tests, pap smears, the list goes on and on. Anything you can get at your doctor’s office, you can get here.”
The mobile clinic also has a benefit counselor to help patients with insurance.
“Anyone who doesn’t have insurance, we will still see them, but we also want to help them apply to have some type of insurance that will cover them when they are not going to the doctor,” said Mitchell. “Like an emergency room visit, a hospital stay, we try to get everyone with some type of coverage.”
Last year, was the mobile clinic’s second Taste of Soul.
“You are going there thinking that people are going to be there just for food. But as soon as someone sees a clinic, you realize the need that people actually have,” said Mitchel. “Instead of going to a doctor, they went to Taste of Soul and while they were there, they realized ‘oh there’s a doctor and I can get seen’.”
This year, the mobile clinic provided flu vaccines, STD screenings and rapid HIV testing.
“Things happen all the time, but a lot of people may not have access. So when you are going somewhere and you see a health facility a lot of people just think, since I’m here, I might as well see the doctor,” said Mitchell. “I don’t have to set an appointment, I can get seen on the spot and get good health care at the same time. The Taste of Soul definitely helps people in the community.”
For more information on St. John’s Well Child and Family Center visit http://www.wellchild.org/ or call (213) 610-8891.
Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center
Kaiser Permanente (KP) West Los Angeles Medical Center has a long standing relationship with the Black community helping residents thrive by offering comprehensive health care services including primary care, obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics.
KP West L.A. believes in working together to build a healthier community. As part of their mission, the medical providers extend their care beyond their offices and medical buildings and into the streets of West L.A. by offering programs ranging from working and educating high school students about the health care profession to art and middle school dance programs, and more. In total, KP West L.A. averages about 52 events a year and over half of the events take place in the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw area.
During last year’s Taste of Soul, KP West L.A. was one of the primary medical sponsors providing first aide at the medical tent.
“We were honored to be the primary health care provider at the 2016 Taste of Soul. It provided us an opportunity to bring care to the communities we serve outside of our brick and mortar facilities,” said Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center Community and Government Relations Representative Jamila Veasley. “It was a great experience and very collaborative. We partnered with LAPD, LAFD and other medical providers to ensure a seamless event and in the process strengthened our relationship with the community.”
KP West L.A. also provided education on disease prevention to the TOS goers.
“People often only go to the doctor when something is wrong. But by promoting a more proactive and preventative approach to health care, we can encourage people to take better take care of themselves so they stay healthier,” said Veasley.
As for future business plans, the medical providers are currently building a Baldwin Hills/ Crenshaw facility. The medical building is set to open in mid-2017.
For more information on Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Centers visit
http://k-p.li/2kO8cBG and for an appointment call 800-954-8000.
W. King Health Care Group
For over 20 years, the CEO of W. King Health Care Group Dr. William King, has ensured that the clinic provides the best health care services to people of color in the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw community. The clinic focuses on primary care, internal medicine, pain management, mental health services and more. The clinic also works with an acupuncturist and a Reiki Master who practices energy massages.
During last year’s Taste of Soul, W. King Health Care Group, was given the opportunity increase its community involvement by participating in the family festival.
“We worked hard, I think we diverted a lot of problems that could have been worsened,” said Dr. King. “It was a well-run collaborative effort between the fire department, the paramedics and various community-based organizations and medical corporations. We had this contingency of collaborations and people who are invested in this community working very hard.”
When the Sentinel last spoke with Dr. King, he had already begun setting future business goals for his clinic.
“We are going to start doing clinical trials as well as HIV,” said Dr. King. “I see the collaborations I have been building over the years solidifying into something that is beautiful with people who share my passion.”
For more information on the medical services and programs offered at W. King Health Care Group, visit their office, 756 Santa Rosalia Dr. #506, Los Angeles, CA 90008 or call (323) 275-4520 and log on to http://www.wkinghealth.com/ .
Other Taste of Soul health providers include Explorer Ambulance One and L.A. Watts Health Care.
The Taste of Soul family festival is months away, to stay up to date with the latest TOS vendors and performances download the TOS app and visit http://tasteofsoul.org/ For exclusive TOS interviews visit www.lasentinel.net