Funding Approved for Mental Health Special Services

The County of Los Angeles approved a multimillion dollar expansion of mental health services and funding this week. Because of the $4.4 million in new funding, the County’s Department of Mental Health will be able to operate 10 additional outpatient clinics and one additional specialty clinic that will provide an array of services to older adults, 60 and over.

This specialty clinic is the first of its kind in the County that will focus on older adults. Additionally, it will be staffed with multi-disciplinary clinical treatment professionals who are specifically trained to work with older adults.

Over 60% of the services at the new clinic will be mobile and delivered in community locations that are frequented by older adults, such as senior/public housing complexes, senior centers, and homeless shelters. Frail or homebound older adults with serious mental illness will receive services right in their own homes as part of the new clinic.

According the County mental health experts, many older adults are affected by the stigma of mental illness and chose not seek services from a mental health agency.

It is the goal of the program that increases in accessibility through mobile services, like this new specialty clinic, will enhance the identification and appropriate treatment of older adults with mental illness.

Norwalk Clinic to Receive Major Financial Gift

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will join local health leaders christen the new S. Mark Taper Foundation Building at the Norwalk Regional Health Center and celebrate the Foundation’s $300,000 gift that will help boost health care services at the facility, which opened in February 2006.

Supervisor Knabe, Norwalk City Councilmember Gordon Stefenhagen, JWCH Institute CEO Al Ballesteros and others will unveil new building signage to recognize the grant that will provide additional medical services for low-income, under-insured and uninsured residents, regardless of their ability to pay. According to the County’s Health Department, nearly 27,000 people in the City of Norwalk have no health care insurance.

With this health center being open for the past year – we are giving the gift of hope to many of these thousands of people who have not had access to these services, Knabe said. I also want to express my deepest thanks to the Taper Foundation for their support of this health center. This type of partnership works well to benefit our communities.

The Norwalk Health Center had closed in 2002 because of budget cuts, but reopened in 2006 with the help of Supervisor Knabe, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, L.A. Care Health Plan and Kaiser Permanente.

Wendy Lee Welt of Downey is Appointed to the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities

Supervisor Don Knabe today announced that the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved his appointment of Downey resident Wendy Welt to the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities.

Welt is the President of Beneficial Lifestyles in Hawthorne, and is also an accomplished motivational speaker who performs seminars for various corporations, organizations and churches. She is currently attending California State University, Long Beach, where she is working towards a degree in Communication Studies.

Welt also volunteers to help children who have been abandoned, disabled, or abused. She has served on the Disabilities Commission for almost seven years and has served as both the Chair and Vice Chair.

As a person born without arms and legs, I am a huge advocate for the disabled, said Welt. My passion is to help as many people as I can.

Wendy is a very strong and passionate woman, who has overcome some tremendous obstacles to get where she is now, said Supervisor Knabe. She is absolutely committed to the disabled population, and she will continue to be a valuable asset on this Commission.

County Homeless Needs Your Help

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) will be conducting a Homeless Count throughout the County. LAHSA is actively recruiting volunteers to help with the Count.

Tasks could include actually going out on the streets during this time to count the number of observed homeless, coordinating surveys of homeless persons, coordinating deployment of volunteers, etc.

This is an incredible opportunity to give housing to the homeless. Before approval of this program, we had virtually no way to ensure that homeless men and women leaving our hospitals would receive safe housing or appropriate care, said Supervisor Knabe. I am grateful to the City of Los Angeles for their help with my proposal and I look forward to hearing the results of this pilot program.

Norwalk Regional Health Center Re-Opens

Nearly four years after County budget cuts forced its closure, the Norwalk Regional Health Center is now back in business. Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will lead the clinic’s re-opening with a ribbon cutting and dedication at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 15th.

The re-opening of the Health Center was made possible by contributions from Supervisor Don Knabe, JWCH Institute, L.A. Care Health Plan, Kaiser Permanente, and the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

The newly-renovated Health Center will be operated by JWCH Institute, Inc., a private, non-profit health agency founded by a group of prominent Los Angeles-area physicians in 1960. Since then, the Institute has managed several health clinics targeting under-served residents of Los Angeles County.

The Health Center, which is now accepting patients, will provide free and low-cost medical care and social services to the residents of the surrounding communities. JWCH is collaborating with the following agencies to provide the patients a wide range of services: ALMA Family Services, Intercommunity Child Guidance Center, Los Angeles Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Oldtimers Foundation, Southern California Alcohol and Drug Programs, Whittier Rio Hondo AIDS Project, and Helpline Youth Counseling.

When you look at the low-cost services available in this community, you find they are virtually non-existent. The people who need this clinic the most have to travel a great distance to receive the services it once provided before closing, said Supervisor Knabe. This re-opening is a rebirth. It is a commitment that we have not given up on providing outstanding health care to this community.

"Re-opening the Norwalk Regional Health Center is the result of the work of a public-private partnership among L.A. Care Health Plan, Supervisor Don Knabe and JWCH Institute," said Howard Kahn, CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, which funded a $125,000 grant to re-open the health center. Access to health care affects everyone and guaranteeing it will require the collective effort of all of us."

The press conference and ribbon cutting will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 15th. The Norwalk Regional Health Center is located at 12360 Firestone Boulevard in the City of Norwalk. Parking will be reserved for members of the media on Firestone Boulevard directly in front of the Health Center.

Knabe to Dedicate Two Homeless Centers in Long Beach

On Thursday, February 9, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will lead the Grand Opening celebrations for two new homeless service facilities in the City of Long Beach.

The first event is the dedication of the new Mary McLeod Bethune Transitional Center, a school that provides mainstream educational and health services to children of homeless families. The new 6,000 square foot campus helps many of the 800 homeless children enrolled in the Long Beach Unified School District receive the same academic opportunities that students in other local schools receive. Supervisor Knabe secured $1 million in Federal Community Development Block Grant money to help fund construction of the Bethune Center.

The second event is the dedication of a new homeless shelter, which will serve as the first permanent, year-round shelter in Long Beach. The 59-bed facility will accommodate both men and women in separate units and will include services beyond free overnight housing and meals.

Anyone staying at the shelter will be able to access an array of services, including mental health, housing assistance and job training services. Supervisor Knabe earmarked $787,000 in County homeless shelter funding towards construction and operation costs.

Both of these programs are about giving homeless men, women and children a leg up,said Supervisor Knabe. At both facilities we are giving people access to the same educational, health and social services any other resident of Los Angeles County can enjoy.

The dedication of the Bethune Transitional Center is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 9. The Center is located at 2041 San Gabriel Avenue in Long Beach.

Services at the new Long Beach Homeless Shelter begin at 12 p.m. on Thursday, February 9. The Shelter’s address is 1368 Oregon Avenue in Long Beach.