Hundreds of homeless and uninsured health insurance go to the LA center for free medical care

For more than a decade, María Ramírez, was a woman who lived helplessly in the Skid Row area but now, at 67, is already staying in an apartment.

When asked, what do you most appreciate about having a roof? Frankly replies: "A shower."

This Friday, Maria was one of almost a thousand low-income people, many of them homeless, who received free medical care at the Mega Clinic organized by Care Harbor – a nonprofit charity based on volunteers.

Lined up for several hours on her walker, Maria was patient while waiting to have her blood pressure checked first – which was in order – and to see an eye doctor.
“I have blurred vision, that's why I came to be treated,” said the woman.

Patients lined up early. / photo: Jorge Luis Macías.

During the eleventh annual Care Harbor event at The Reef building, in downtown Los Angeles, ophthalmologists, dentists, nurses and medical assistants spent a day working exclusively to care for the homeless. The activity continues this Saturday and Sunday.

During the opening, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, one of the sponsors of the event and leader in the effort to provide housing for the population without shelter, called the lack of a roof as “the moral crisis of our weather".

“Not only do we have a housing crisis; We have a health crisis, ”he said.

"We have a crisis of untreated addiction and substance abuse, mental illness, trauma and the suffering of poverty."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was also part of the event.

The latter was precisely what led the Honduran "Marlon Menjívar" to go to the place, where upon review it was determined that a tooth was removed. While his friend, the Mexican "Juan Tovar", took two teeth.

Both preferred not to reveal their real names.

"I worked in a restaurant in Los Angeles but I fell and got hurt … I could no longer continue and the boss ran to me," said Marlon, who confessed that he has been living in the open for three years.
MacArthur Park. Sometimes, also overnight in the vicinity of Placita Olvera.

For his part, Juan said he was a year and a half with severe pain in his teeth. Some were chopped and had many cavities.

“Look how I've been… chimuelo!” Said the man from Mexico City, who says he can sleep for only three months at the Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights.

"When the deadline comes, I will have to go back to the street," he said.

Many people also had tests to check their blood pressure and glucose. / photo: Care Harbor

In figures

According to an October report, more than 58,000 people live homeless in Los Angeles County, a rate that has increased during 2018.

This despite the investment of $ 350 million annually by the County of Los Angeles through Measure H, to address the crisis of the homeless.

In addition, for every 133 people who are housed in County services, 150 are homeless every day.

This year, it is anticipated that more than 1,000 homeless people will die on the street.

"The homeless crisis in Los Angeles is a problem that concerns everyone," said Don Manelli, president of Care Harbor.

“That is why Care Harbor has dedicated a full day of attention to the needy. There is a great need to provide basic services to those who are homeless and have little access to medical care. ”

"Felipe de la Loza", a blind man with his left eye and with almost total loss of vision in his right eye, revealed to La Opinión that he has been living inside his truck for three months, in a downtown area of ​​Los Angeles.

Felipe de la Loza, 78, arrived at The Reef building on Friday to have his vision checked.

“Around me there is everything; Drunk and selling drugs. Many are little boys who are just beginning to live, ”said the 78-year-old man born in Texas. “They respect me because I give them advice to get out of the bad things they are in; That is my mission to live on the streets. ”

Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health informed La Opinión that the life of the homeless is shortened by 20 years compared to those with a roof.

"This cannot happen in this country and in this county," he said. “25% of those who died [on the streets in 2018] were due to overdose; 24% died because they had heart attack problems; 22% because they had some type of injuries; 10% for homicides and 5% because of suicides ”.

According to an October 2019 report published by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the number of deaths of homeless people doubled from 536 in 2013 to 1,047 in 2018, but the death rate, which represents increases in Total number of homeless people increased by more than a third during that same period.

"It's a shame that we have to do this kind of event to take care of the homeless," said Howard Kahn, a member of Care Harbor and the Good Hope Foundation. "But it's also good that we do it for them so they don't lose hope."


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