For many in Los Angeles County, finding LGBT-friendly health care services is a struggle, especially if they do not live in or near West Hollywood and Hollywood. For those people living on limited incomes, the struggle can be even harder.
Those are just two of the reasons why the news that APLA Health & Wellness is opening a new health center in Long Beach geared toward lower income LGBT clients is welcome.
APLA Health & Wellness is part of a clinic network across Los Angeles. The federally qualified health center also operates the Gleicher/Chen Health Center in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of South L.A., offering full medical, dental, and mental health services; as well as the Wilshire Dental Clinic near downtown, the S. Mark Taper Foundation Dental Clinic in South L.A., and counseling services at the David Geffen Center in Koreatown.
In March, the new Long Beach Health Center, located on the St. Mary Medical Campus, will begin offering counseling services and a four-chair dental clinic will be operational by late spring. The center currently provides primary medical care, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) counseling and management, HIV testing and STD screening and treatment, as well as health insurance enrollment assistance.
The health center’s opening was made possible in part through a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. The 7,000-square-foot facility will have the capacity to see more than 5,000 patients a year when it is fully operational, according to a press release about the health center’s opening.
“Providing excellent culturally competent care is a community effort, and we are working with other key partners, including service providers, the Long Beach Health Department, and elected officials to expand access to these critically needed services,” APLA Health & Wellness CEO Craig E. Thompson said in a statement.
For many LGBT clients, PrEP counseling and management will be one of the key services the new health center provides. PrEP is a HIV prevention strategy that involves taking a once-a-day pill. When taken correctly, it has been shown to be up to 99 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission. The new health center also can help patients select an appropriate health insurance plan that will help cover the cost of PrEP.
“PrEP awareness is on the rise, but many people still don’t know there’s this important HIV prevention tool or how to get it,” said Terry Smith, associate director of prevention at APLA Health & Wellness. “Removing barriers to PrEP access is very important in the fight against HIV and to educating more people about how to take care of their sexual health.”
The Long Beach Health Center is located at 1043 Elm Ave., Suite 302, and is currently open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. (closed for lunch 12-1 p.m.).
Appointments are available by calling 562-432-7300, and hours are expected to expand later this spring.
For more information about APLA Health & Wellness and its locations and services, visit www.aplahw.org.
— By The Pride LA Staff