On August 12, Los Angeles legislators Sen. Bob Hertzberg and Asm. Wendy Carrillo joined health care workers and community clinic leaders to announce a major milestone in our effort to save community clinics across California from the brink of collapse.
“I really love my patients. It means so much to me when they recognize what I’m doing and tell me they’re so thankful for me helping them, whether that be drawing blood, giving shots, giving them their paperwork and making sure they get their referral, or making sure they get their appointment,” said Alisha Walker, a Medical Assistant II at LifeLong Medical Care. “We’ve had a lot of turnover since the start of the pandemic. At one point there were probably up to six medical assistants that left. Most of them said they wanted to stay but couldn’t make ends meet because of the low pay.”
At the rally and press conference, which was held at Clinica Romero in LA, workers, elected officials, patients, family members, and clinic managers called on the Newsom Administration and legislature to commit to $75 million for retention payments to be included in a “budget trailer bill” before the end of the month.
“My son has had healthcare challenges through his life, both physical and emotional. A bonus for healthcare workers at community clinics is an important first step to show them the respect they deserve for helping patients like my son,” said Maria Castillo, the parent of a clinic patient.
Community health centers across California were already facing a financial and staffing crisis before the pandemic amplified these issues. Clinic budget shortfalls have led to longer wait times and diminished care for patients.
“Our state is facing a shortage of healthcare workers and we must do all we can to empower, engage and retain this workforce,” said Asm. Carrillo. “I couldn’t be more proud to stand with SEIU members to advance California’s progress on healthy equity,” Sen. Hertzberg said.
Friday’s announcement offered hope that the Governor and state legislators would intervene to stabilize the clinic workforce that serve California’s most vulnerable communities.
“Our patients deserve to have access to the best care possible, but that is impossible to achieve without investment in the retention of workers. Clinic leaders from across the state are standing with our patients, labor, and elected lawmakers to make sure that California takes immediate action for retention payments for more than 70,000 community clinic workers in our state,” said Carlos Vaquerano, CEO of Clinica Romero.