AltaMed Health Services operates in East Los Angeles and North Orange counties, both of which are classified as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). This designation signifies that there are not enough doctors to serve the population. Ideally, there should be one physician per 3,500 community members. In our service area of over 11,000,000 people, there are only 717 doctors, or one doctor per 15,378 residents. Only 23% of the need for doctors is currently being met, leaving millions of people without access to adequate health care. Disparities in care are even wider among the low-income, uninsured and underinsured. AltaMed is continuously working to increase access to high-quality, culturally competent health care for all in our community by bringing in more doctors and helping patients gain insurance coverage. AltaMed will never turn away a patient due to inability to pay.
AltaMed has made significant strides in increasing access to care in our community by employing 154 doctors and helping 15,000 patients enroll in insurance programs in 2016. However, there is still so much work to be done for our community in order to overcome the HPSA designation. With your help, we can continue to bring more talented doctors to our community and increase access to quality health care without exception.
Cecilia was only three weeks old when she developed the flu. Cecilia’s family doesn’t have insurance so many doctors are unwilling to see them when they are sick. There weren’t any walk-in clinics open, and the soonest doctor’s appointment that her mom could get for her was three weeks away. It was the middle of flu season. Everyone else needed a doctor’s appointment too. As Cecilia’s mom nervously waited for her appointment to be seen by a doctor, her biggest fear became reality. Her newborn baby’s condition rapidly declined.
It was the middle of the night when Cecilia’s mom realized something sounded wrong on the baby monitor. She went to her daughter’s room and found that Cecilia was struggling to breathe. Three-week-old Cecilia was rushed to the hospital. Her tiny fingers made it nearly impossible to get an oxygen saturation level reading, but her blue fingers and toes–caused by a lack of oxygen–made her deteriorating condition painfully obvious.
When Cecilia got to the emergency room, already on oxygen, she was hooked up to many other machines to monitor her condition. Her lungs were filling with mucus, making it nearly impossible to breathe, and she couldn’t get the mucus out on her own. The doctors and nurses treated this baby as if she were their own. They vowed to do everything they could to treat her. Three weeks ago, Cecilia’s family had a perfect baby girl. Now they were helplessly watching their daughter struggle to breathe. The world was moving in slow motion.
After what felt like an eternity for her family, Cecilia’s condition began to improve. The nightmare was beginning to come to an end, but Cecilia would spend the next 7 days in the hospital recovering and being monitored by her doctor and a team of nurses. She turned one month old in the hospital, surrounded by her dedicated family, nurses and doctors.
Your gift to the AltaMed Foundation helps us create greater access to care by providing more doctors in our community so that our families, like Cecilia’s, have immediate access to care when they need it. Waiting even just one day to see a doctor can be the difference between a quick recovery from the flu and a life-threatening illness. Your health can change in an instant. Being able to get the care you need, when you need it, is a critical AltaMed’s mission.
Only 23% of the need for doctors is currently being met. AltaMed has made significant strides in increasing access to care in our communities. Join our mission!