Via Care, formerly known as Bienvenidos Children’s Center, is a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center formed to provide affordable and high-quality health care to those who call East Los Angeles home. Via Care fulfills its mission by delivering quality health care services throughout the entire life cycle, in a manner that is respectful and conscious of the cultural and linguistic needs of our patients and their families. We truly believe in providing quality health care for the entire family with a personal touch. We take pride in being part of the community we serve, and look forward to continuing to serve the health and well-being of our patients day in and day out.
Headquartered in East Los Angeles, Via Care operates six sites: four primary-care clinics; a school-based wellness center at Garfield High School, and an outpatient clinic for adults and youth with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Via Care focuses on creating a patient-centered medical home, regardless of ability to pay, which eases families out of crisis mode and into the comfortable routine of good health throughout their lives.
Via Care builds on a foundation of empowering patients to take control of their health and lives, offering extensive family planning, health screenings, and health education, in addition to primary and acute care. Behavioral health services help provide confidential, accessible counseling and support that mitigates the stigma usually associated with seeking mental health treatment. Our collaborative relationships with local hospitals and the local school district ensure that patients will receive the highest level of care in different areas of their lives making our services more readily accessible.
One of the most innovative programs recently added to our vast array of services is our outpatient recovery health program, which is made possible through federal funding via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). Utilizing these funds, Via Care has developed a multitude of support services and groups to directly address the needs of our substance use disorder and LGTBQIA+ community members. We currently offer bilingual weekly individual therapy, substance misuse counseling, and Recovery Skills, Relapse Prevention, and Crystal Meth Anonymous groups. Along with our groups we also offer anger management, parenting, and domestic violence classes. All of these services are offered at little to no cost for the participant, making us an ideal option for those who are court ordered, indigent, uninsured or underinsured.
In addition to housing an Outpatient Substance Abuse Recovery program, we have also launched LGTBQIA+ specific services and are diligently working to carve a niche on the Eastside of Los Angeles to service this often under-resourced population in our local community. Like other LGBTQIA+ people of color, queer Latinx require specialized care and cultural understanding when it comes to their general well-being and especially when receiving health services. We must be aware of and address homophobia, internalized stigma, and discrimination in Latinx communities and how to overcome the harmful effects, which include family separation, higher risk of HIV/AIDS contraction or exposure, and suicide ideation related to social stigma or limited support in the community when confronting their identity and/or HIV/AIDS status.
Our recovery health program bridges these opportunities to further service our LGBTQIA+ community with the addition of a Men’s Support group dedicated to 18-29-year-old Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and by providing free HIV Rapid Testing and counseling. We conduct outreach at local events within the area and throughout Los Angeles County to educate and promote knowledge of our services for the LGBTQIA+ community. Most recently we sponsored two films at the Los Angeles Outfest Film Festival: 1) “No Dress Code Required” and 2) “More Than T,” which advocated for international marriage equality, and highlighted the transitional struggles of transgender women of color, respectively. We have also begun to collaborate with other programs “The Wall de Memorias,” Bienestar, and Latinos Family Health Center, to conduct bilingual monthly community workshops that focus on HIV prevention, education, and risk reduction. By conducting these workshops, Via Care was able to increase patient knowledge, lower sexual risk, and increase HIV testing for over 80 men in the last six months. We’ve also established connections with local halfway homes to provide medical and substance misuse screenings along with creating a referral system to direct patients to Via Care for continuation of care.
One of our biggest visions for the East LA community is to be able to administer Post-Exposure Prophylaxis and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP & PrEP). HIV/AIDS disproportionately effects communities of color, and the Latinx community is no exception. New HIV infections among Latinos in the U.S. are three times as high as that of whites. Among Latino Men who have Sex with Men (MSM), 67% of estimated new HIV infections occurred in those under the age of 35. The rate of Latinas getting exposed is rising as well: 70% of Latinas living with HIV/AIDS were infected through heterosexual contact. HIV prevalence rates in under-resourced urban areas are inversely related to socioeconomic status (SES)—the lower the SES, the greater the HIV prevalence rate.
There is a clear need for medications like PEP & PrEP, which has shown to be more than 90% effective when used correctly. However, there are still barriers among the Latinx community, including a lack of knowledge about the drug, stigma attached to sleeping with men or perceived promiscuity, and concerns about costs and side effects. It is also important for health workers to focus on reaching young minority men at highest risk for getting HIV and transmitting it to others, including those who don’t regularly use condoms. However, another barrier experienced includes many patients having to educate their provider on the medications. We strive to be a “one stop shop” for everyone, but especially for our most under-resourced populations. To truly exemplify our mission statement, we must provide and excel within these services because there is still much work to be done.
Via Care wants to be a part of the movement to change the current climate surrounding it. For this reason, we are educating our providers and health workers to build strong a medical force in the heart of East LA that genuinely understands and cares for the queer community. For more information about Via Care, visit our website at www.viacarela.org or follow our social media pages @ViaCareLA.