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County health clinic to open on skid row

Residents of the apartment building, scheduled to open this summer on 6th Street, will be chosen based on their health needs.

February 03, 2013|By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times
  • This apartment complex being built for the homeless on 6th Street in downtown L.A. will also house a health clinic operated by L.A. County.
This apartment complex being built for the homeless on 6th Street in downtown… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

Recognizing the high cost of treating homeless patients, Los Angeles County plans to open a health clinic inside a skid row apartment building.

Residents of the 102-unit building, scheduled to open this summer on 6th Street, will be carefully chosen based on their health needs and their regular use of the emergency healthcare system.

"We're looking at our folks who are at risk of further deterioration and death and who are seen frequently in our expensive emergency rooms," said Marc Tortz, who directs the Housing for Health office for the county's Department of Health Services.

Homeless patients often are treated in emergency rooms and hospitals, only to then be sent back out onto the streets, Tortz said. "It's terrible for the people and it's expensive for our system," he said.

The clinic will offer both physical and mental health care for the residents and others in the community. The administrative offices of Housing for Health with also be at the site.

With the clinic on site, residents will be able to manage their health more effectively, said Michael Alvidrez, executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust. There will be art and career development classes offered at the building as well.

The apartment complex, being built by Skid Row Housing Trust, will also have a recreational facility that includes a basketball court and a track.

Theresa Winkler, 49, who lives in another one of the supportive housing complexes, said she started taking care of her epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder only after getting off the streets.

"Today I take my medication because I have somewhere to put it," she said.

anna.gorman@latimes.com

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