ChapCare Celebrates 20 Years: Born of Community Need, Evolved Into Community Stalwart

Richard Nordin, left, Michael D. Antonovich, and Margaret Martinez.Guests tour the optical clinic at the ChapCare Lincoln Health Center during the center\'s 20th Anniversary event.Pasadena Police Chief John Perez and his wife Norma Perez tour the Lincoln Health Center during the 20th Anniversary.Pastor Jean Burch, left, and Barbara PhiferFrom left: Maria Alenor Sunga, Lorraine Banda, Maria Victoria Sunga and Victor SungaGuests tour the ChapCare Lincoln Health Center during the 20th Anniversary event.Courtney Powers and Ray Cheung The John Tirabasso Youth Jazz Ensemble perform during ChapCare\'s 20th Anniversary event.Hector Rodriguez and Dominic CorreyLincoln Health Care Center Board Member Denise Jones hugs guests during the ChapCare\'s 20th Anniversary event.

By EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor

4:39 am | April 23, 2018

In the mid-90s, areas of Northwest Pasadena were suffering from a unique malady — an epidemic of gunshot wounds. Pasadena had no facilities to treat such victims other than one, Huntington Hospital.

“When I heard through the Black Males Forum that this was happening, I knew I had to be a part of it,” said ChapCare founding board member Dr. Nathan Lewis on Saturday evening,

Furthermore, many residents in the area depended upon MediCal. Lewis knew from his own private practice that MediCal was burdensome and difficult.

“In Pasadena, if you had MediCal, there were not a lot of doctors who would take MediCal, so if you came from a low-income family, you had difficulty getting access to care,” Dr. Lewis said.

Add that to the basic problem of community residents having few alternatives for low-cost medical care, let alone insurance, and a group of concerned Pasadenans saw a real need.

Along with Black Males Forum, there was the Pasadena Unified School District, Huntington Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, the City of Pasadena, the Pasadena Health Department, Pacific Clinics, Planned Parenthood of Pasadena and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. From this group of dedicated professional was born Community Health Alliance of Pasadena. The organization incorporated as a non-profit organization, and launched medical services in 1998.

The Community Health Alliance of Pasadena (ChapCare) incorporated as a non-profit organization and launched medical services in 1998. Since then, ChapCare has grown from a grassroots community clinic to a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) regional network, with a mission “to provide excellent, comprehensive, and innovative healthcare that is accessible to the residents of the San Gabriel Valley.”

The group’s model has evolved over the years and now addresses chronic disease issues and prevention in conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, and more.

It’s been 20 years, and on Saturday, they celebrated their hard work, their good fortune, and their community help and support at the group’s Lincoln Avenue location, purchased in 2014, and which specializes in pediatric, optometry and dental care.

The event, emceed by KNBC4 reporter Lolita Lopez, welcomed and honored staff, supporters and original board members, as well as scores of friends.

State Assemblymember Chris Holden congratulated ChapCare CEO Margaret Martinez for her 19 years of service to ChapCare, During her time overseeing ChapCare, Martinez led the group from hospital affiliation to FQHC designation, implemented electronic health records, and helped the organization grow by leveraging it with the Affordable Care Act.

Today, ChapCare provides 66,000 primary health care visits annually to over 15, 400 individual patients.

As Assemblymember Holden pointed out, during his 30 years of public service, has seen health care from “a scarce resource to a service tha more and more Americans can now access to.”

“In the mid 90s, before the growth of healthcare,” recalled Holden, “there was one doctor per 21,000 residents in Northwest Pasadena. Patients would us urgent care or emergency care as primary care. And there was a great doubt that a community health organization like ChapCare would sustain itself. But today, we have all the proof we need that our faith has paid off.”