BALDWIN HILLS — After over a decade of negotiations and two years of construction, the long-awaited Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Medical Office has officially opened its doors. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 20, city officials, Kaiser Permanente administrators and invited guests commemorated the historic occasion.
“This project had a lot of starts, a lot of stops and a lot of dashed hopes,” Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said. “We got this close to the finish line and had to turn around and start all over again. This project spanned the terms of three city council people. I am proud and happy that I got to run the last leg and cross the finish line.”
The 100,000-square-foot, $90 million, state-of-the-art medical office is located at the corner of Marlton Avenue and Santa Rosalia Drive across from the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. According to Kaiser Permanente Physician in Charge, Dr. Erique Emel, the model for the building’s technology is called “Care Delivery Transformation.”
“It’s all about being embedded in the community and intentionally interacting with the patient, not only the staff, but also the building itself,” he said.
Many of the technology features are similar to those inside most airport terminals. Express check-in for doctor appointments can be done at home on the computer or via mobile phone through an online Kaiser Permanente account.
Patients using express check-in will receive a bar code that can be scanned when they arrive at the medical office, which automatically places them in line to see their health care provider. Onsite express check-in is available at kiosks located in the medical office’s lobby or “Public Square” and through service representatives.
Patients will be able to see their position in their health provider’s queue on a screen that is similar to the “arrivals and departures” board at the airport terminal.
In addition to the interactive technology, Dr. Emel noted that Kaiser Permanente BHC will offer “all the essential out-patient services that patients need to remain healthy or regain health.” This includes health education classes in managing diabetes, high blood pressure, good nutrition as well as yoga, tai chi and other exercise classes.
The campus of the medical office provides a 2.5-mile walking path, a large grassy area and exercise equipment for public use.
The medical office will partner with existing community organizations focused on health, such as the YMCA, which is located across the street. One of Kaiser Permanente BHC’s goals for community partnerships is to have “BHC” not only be an acronym for “Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw,” but represent “Building Better Community,” Dr. Emel said.
County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas views Kaiser’s entry into South Los Angeles as a step in the right direction in narrowing the health care disparity gap between African Americans and the general population in certain areas.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, he cited a Harvard and Michigan medical research study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report stated that there are virtually no health care disparities in areas of diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol between African Americans enrolled in Kaiser Medicare advantage plans on the West Coast and white Medicare enrollees.
“We love the building, we love the aesthetics, but at the end of the day, it’s about improving health outcomes and high-quality patient care,” Ridley-Thomas said.