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Los Angeles Times Highlights Area Clinics Targeting Immigrants, Low-Income Minorities

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Los Angeles Times this week published two articles about health clinics that specialize in care to minority populations. Summaries appear below.

  • Chagas disease: The Olive View clinic at the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Centeris the "first clinic in the country devoted to studying and treatingChagas disease," an illness that has been the leading cause of heartfailure in Latin America and has started to affect U.S. immigrantcommunities, the Los Angeles Timesreports. Chagas disease, a parasitic illness that is passed to humansfrom an insect, over time can cause fatal damage to the heart andintestines. The illness also can be passed from human to human throughblood transfusions or organ transplants. It also can be passed tochildren during birth, which has been the main source of transmissionin Latin America. By the end of October, 253 people in 30 U.S. stateshad tested positive for Chagas, according to the American Association of Blood Banks.Most of those with the illness emigrated from high-risk areas or arethe children of such immigrants, Susan Stramer, executive scientificofficer for the American Red Cross, said. There is no FDA-approved drug to treat the disease, and the only two treatments known to be effective must be obtained directly from CDC.Sheba Meymandi, director of Olive View, said, "We really, really needto become more aware of the potential of this disease in our LatinAmerican population because the long-term outcome is pretty horrific,"adding, "If I can prevent someone from developing heart failure, whichif they do will tax the system even more, that's my job" (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 11/6).
  • UMMA clinic: The UMMAclinic in South Los Angeles has become a "national model" fordelivering high-quality care to largely low-income, underservedminority residents, the Los Angeles Timesreports. UMMA is an acronym for the University Muslim MedicalAssociation, the group that founded the clinic, and the name also comesfrom the Arabic word "ummah," which means community. In addition to itsmedical services, the clinic sponsors blood drives, helps with taxpreparation and undertakes education efforts. The clinic opened in 1996with an initial two-year, $680,000 operating grant from the city andhas been able to continue operation through community fundraisers. Lastyear, it became a federally qualified health center, enabling it toreceive federal funds. Most of the clinic's patients are not Muslim;about 70% are Hispanic, about 25% black and the remainder are white orAsian-American. "If you see something that isn't right, there is anobligation in Islam to try to fix it with your own hands, first of all.That's the highest good," Yasser Aman, president and CEO of the clinic,said (Trounson, Los Angeles Times, 11/3).

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