About 250 persons showed up recently at an event that is a rarity in the community–the grand opening celebration of a major medical facility in South Los Angeles.

There were political leaders–Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, 8th District Councilman Bernard Parks, 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry and representatives for Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Assemblymember Hollis J. Michell, among others. There were physicians, nurses, staff people and community people.

The 15,000-square-foot building, called Kaiser Permanente South Los Angeles Medical Offices, was reportedly designed to serve more than 80,000 Kaiser members who reside in the South Los Angeles area. The pristine facility, which opens officially on Monday, represents a $10 million investment by the Oakland-based consortium. Kaiser is the nation’s largest managed-care organization, with 3.3 million members in Southern California alone.

Members will be able to get primary care, X-rays, lab tests and prescriptions. There are 18 exam rooms and five doctors–one pediatrician and four family medicine physicians. However, the facility, located at 1550 W. Manchester Ave., is not a hospital.

Tumani Leatherwood, the physician in charge, gave the welcome address.

“Through our advanced technology, our physicians will be able to coordinate care with every other physician, pharmacist, and specialist that is treating our members,” Leatherwood noted in a press statement.

“With our electronic health records, expert physicians and staff all in place, we look forward to welcoming our members to our new South Los Angeles medical offices.”

Most of the attendees came well dressed, sporting broad smiles at the sight of something new and exciting in the community. Outside, there were plenty of refreshments–including ice cream, cake slices, fruit, guava punch, coffee–and musical performances by the Fernando Pullum Performing Arts High School Choir and the Manhattan Place Elementary School first- and second- grade choir. Attendees strolled the building’s two floors and peeked into the sparkling new rooms.

Yvette Choctaw, a retired Postal Service employee, seemed thrilled about the facility. Choctaw said she has been a Kaiser member since joining the Post Office in 1962.

“I love the service. I can come here to pick up my medicine and do my blood work. I can walk here,” she said, explaining that she lives just around the corner from the new medical offices.
“It’s also in the area of the Normandie-Halldale Block Club Association,” she said.