Local nonprofit improves the community’s health
By Laura Latzko
A lack of insurance and medical care can mean conditions go untreated. This is especially true for the low-income population.
The nonprofit ChapCare — or Community Health Alliance of Pasadena — has been working to help individuals in this position get access to the care they need.
For the third year, it will host the ChapCare Swing Fore Health Golf Tournament on Monday, August 29, at Glendora Country Club, 2400 Country Club Drive, Glendora. The signature event raises funds to support insured patient care.
Earlier this summer, ChapCare and Aion Training held Workout for a Cause, which stressed the importance of fitness and nutrition, regular checkups and ChapCare services.
As part of this campaign, community members worked out as a group at Aion Fitness. This event also allowed patients the chance to share their stories.
During the campaign, the two organizations raised money to fund medical visits and prescriptions for low-income and uninsured patients.
Those interested in supporting the organization can still donate to the patient assistance fund throughout the year.
ChapCare was founded in 1995 by health care organizations, city officials and community members who saw a need for health care services for low-income, uninsured people in Pasadena.
Mauricio Ramos, marketing and outreach director for ChapCare, says the organization has since reached out to the whole of San Gabriel Valley, with clinics in Pasadena, Monrovia and El Monte.
“We started 25 years ago as a small neighborhood response to the need of health care access in the Northwest section of Pasadena,” he says.
“There was an old hospital building that was acquired. We took over and renovated it. It became our flagship health center in Pasadena.”
The nonprofit receives funding through state, federal and local grants, as well as donations from foundations, individuals and corporations.
They offer a range of medical services, including family and pediatric care, women’s health, podiatry, vision, behavioral health, substance abuse counseling and dental services, to more than 100,000 patients annually.
A low-cost pharmacy is among the services as well.
ChapCare uses a patient-centered medical home model, which is focused around a team approach to medical care, led by a physician who provides continued care to patients.
Through the Cover California Navigator Program, the organization provides free health care enrollment assistance to those who need help finding an insurance plan or enrolling in state assistance programs such as Medi-Cal, My Health LA and Covered California.
Counselors speak various languages.
“We have a strong insurance involvement and community outreach team that is able to go out there and educate our community about the importance of health care and options for health care coverage,” Ramos says.
For those who don’t qualify for insurance, ChapCare can cover medical care and prescription costs through a patient assistance fund.
“Whoever doesn’t qualify, we are still able to help them. We don’t turn anyone away,” Ramos says.
Along with medical care, ChapCare provides locals — especially homeless individuals — with food and transportation assistance.
“Transportation is often an issue because they don’t have it or they take public transportation,” Ramos says.
“We find a way to make it easy for them to make sure they don’t miss their appointments.”
Throughout the year, ChapCare hosts and takes part in community outreach events with school districts, churches and other nonprofits.
In July, it hosts a back-to-school event with immunizations and yearly physicals, and a mini fair.
Near Thanksgiving, ChapCare collects collect turkeys, vouchers and food boxes for families in need.
For its holiday cheer events, ChapCare holds a gift drive to provide presents to children and parents in their programs. Last year, they were hosted in Pasadena and El Monte.
“We engage with our patients and our community and really go beyond what is expected of most health centers,” Ramos says.
The staff deems it important to maintain relationships with patients and their families.
“It is making sure that our patients feel like an extended part of our family. This is their medical home, where they come and feel comfortable to bring their kids. Trust is really important to us,” Ramos says.
ChapCare hosts clinics based on the needs of their communities and schools. Last year, it held a pop-up clinic in Arcadia designed to make COVID-19 vaccinations accessible to those in need.
Ramos says especially with COVID-19, educational efforts have been important.
“With COVID-19, there was a lot of hesitancy in our community about getting tested or getting vaccinated,” Ramos says.
“We were able to provide that education and still are and are also advocating to make sure that they have access to vaccines and testing. The work that we do is very rewarding. We definitely see the impact that we are making in our community. Our values are focused on being compassionate to others and treating them the same way that we expect to be treated, with respect and dignity.”
An overweight, diabetic patient lost 100 pounds thanks to ChapCare. Her diabetic foot and ankle problems were treated, and she started eating healthier.
“She didn’t know that she had that condition until we started seeing her and did testing,” Ramos says.
“We identified that problem and treated it. Now, it’s all managed. She’s very grateful for us being there for that whole process. Now, she can come to ChapCare for anything because we take care of her.”