Published : Friday, April 20, 2018 | 2:42 PM
The Community Health Alliance of Pasadena, called ChapCare, celebrates its 20th anniversary of service this weekend. It started two decades ago as a pop-up urgent care operation and has since evolved into a regional network of facilities that aims to make medical services available to all.
“Having been ChapCare’s leader for 20 years I have gotten to see first-hand the impact the organization has had on the communities we serve,” said Margaret B. Martinez, ChapCare’s CEO.“This is the whole education that we’ve been doing over these years about having people just feel better about themselves, breaking down the barrier to primary healthcare so that they can live their life to the fullest actually because they don’t have to worry about health care.”
ChapCare celebrates its 20th Anniversary this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the “Making a Difference: Past, Present and Future” event at its Pasadena facility at 2055 Lincoln Ave.
ChapCare serves all residents of the San Gabriel Valley and is designed to be a community safety net by providing comprehensive healthcare to low income and uninsured individuals and families.
The healthcare organization has grown considerably since it first opened its doors in 1998 in Pasadena and now features eight locations in Pasadena and in surrounding San Gabriel Valley communities such as El Monte, Monrovia, and others.
The positive outcome grew from a grim beginning. In 1995, concerned residents recognized a lack of health care services in Northwest Pasadena and advocated for the medically underserved.
Grassroots pressure from organizations like the Black Males Forum and Pasadena Unified School District, combined with institutional support from Huntington Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, the City of Pasadena and its Health Department, Pacific Clinics, Planned Parenthood of Pasadena, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, led to ChapCare’s founding as a nonprofit public benefit corporation.
“They came up with this idea that they really needed better access to emergency and urgent care services for the community so that when people were involved in some kind of critical incident, there would be access to care closer to where they live,” said Martinez.
Martinez describes the early ‘90s in Pasadena as a time of social turmoil, specifically in the North West area, which was riddled with gang violence, shootings, and was home to a large number of uninsured and low-income families.
“There were barriers to all types of social services that contributed to the status of how the residents were living their day to day lives,” said Martinez.
According to Martinez, the Community Health Alliance of Pasadena came up with the idea that to provide better access to emergency and urgent care services for the community, “so that when people were involved in some kind of critical incident, there would be access to care closer to where they live,” said Martinez.
The Community Health Alliance of Pasadena incorporated as a non-profit organization and launched medical services in 1998.
“We opened our doors then as a community health center, with walk-in capability,” explained Martinez about the original facility which functioned similar to an urgent care.
During the past 20 years, 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.
ChapCare’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 also works to provide the full range of care, from prenatal care to cancer screenings.
“Now, we are a true ambulatory care center where people make appointments so we know that they’re coming in and we’re setting them up to see the same primary health care provider each time so there’s a continuity of care,” said Martinez.
Martinez says ChapCare’s first year serviced 6,000 visits to 3,000 people. Now, it is providing over 65,000 visits to over 13,000 people every year and the number continues to grow every year.
“We’ve also been able to add other services other than medical services,” added Martinez.
ChapCare implemented dental services in 2001 and has added behavioral health services, optometry, and specialty services such as dietary counseling, and more.
“We’ve done a lot of work around health insurance outreach and enrolment so we are promoting access to health care through the affordable care act and we’ve grown quite a bit. Anyone can access our services–insured or uninsured,” said Martinez.
ChapCare’s federal support which requires it to provide services regardless of anyone’s ability to pay on that day of the visit.
Patients also receive a discount schedule that is based on individual income.
“So if they’re very low on income, they pay a very minimal fee for getting their services. And we put people on very generous payment plans because we want to make sure that people get the care that they need,” said Martinez.
In 2007, ChapCare became one of the first health centers in Los Angeles County to implement electronic health records and a few years later in 2012 ChapCare was awarded funding under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to operate a mobile medical van for the homeless. ChapCare also has its own retail pharmacy and is currently open to see new patients.
“We want to thank all people who were involved in the concept and the execution of the idea that’s now ChapCare today,” added Martinez.
Saturday’s event will give ChapCare a chance to recognize the people that helped found the organization, give attendees the opportunity to learn how ChapCare makes a difference in the communities we serve, and explore how ChapCare will enhance and expand its scope of services in the future.
Tickets are $150 and proceeds from this event will go toward providing healthcare services for the uninsured and underinsured.
To purchase tickets, go to https://chapcaretickets.eventbrite.com.