I grew up in South LA, notoriously known as South Central. Despite the negative rep, I love this community. It’s my home and it taught me a lot about grit, perseverance and kindness. I left to pursue a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience but decided to return after getting my masters because I knew I wouldn’t be personally or professionally fulfilled unless I was helping folks from my community have a chance at a better life. Serving as Social Impact Manager at SoLa allows me to do just that.
Economic inequality and lack of access to opportunity is rampant in South LA. The pandemic has only exacerbated these trends.
The Black and Latinx community has been disproportionately affected by the health and economic effects of COVID-19. South LA is already a healthcare desert, so access to COVID-19 testing is difficult. Since May, SoLa Impact has been partnering with the St. John’s Mobile Clinic to help address this lack of access.
At our most recent mobile testing event on September 4th, I met Mercedes. I learned that she lives in South LA and had trouble getting an appointment at a medical clinic. “I don’t understand computers much so it’s hard for me to get an appointment, and do all the things on the internet,” she explained. Mercedes had walked by our signage at 60th and Central for our free testing and decided to stop by. “I started feeling symptoms and was worried because I have an elderly parent at home.” After getting a COVID test she was able to visit St John’s walk-in mobile clinic and receive the healthcare she needed. Lack of technical skills and access to technology can also be a barrier to accessing healthcare.
SoLa Impact and St. John’s have partnered on four mobile clinics so far, strategically placing each at a different SoLa Impact property to reach different populations. Testing is available for symptomatic and asymptomatic adults, children and families, enabling uninsured, formerly homeless and elderly tenants to be tested.
Lack of access to health insurance is also a barrier for many people in our community. Twice as many people in South LA (16.8%) are uninsured compared to the national average (8.5%). I spoke to another resident, Jose. “Well, I’m undocumented,” he told me, “I wasn’t sure how I would pay for a test. This is really helpful.”
I am proud that SoLa Impact has facilitated over 130 COVID-19 tests during our mobile testing events, exceeding the daily average for St. John’s Mobile Clinic operations anywhere in LA – contributing to our city’s effort to get a handle on the pandemic. This reflects the high need for access to testing in South LA and SoLa Impact’s ability to reach this important population.
This has been a difficult time for our city, state and country. What helps me cope is reaching out to my neighbors and trying to do what I can to increase access and lower health inequalities. SoLa Impact and St. John’s will be holding monthly mobile testing events for the foreseeable future. Through community partnerships and collaboration like this I am confident we will continue to break these barriers and help my community not only survive but thrive.
By Erika Cuellar, Social Impact Manager
Check out our website for additional details
Next Mobile Clinic Scheduled Stops at SoLa:
Oct 2nd- Friday
Oct. 27th – Tuesday
Nov 10th – Tuesday