Weekly Update | November 5, 2023
We have The Rev. Warner Traynham to thank for two amazing ministries of St. John’s Cathedral, Carter House and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center.
A week ago it was a visit to Carter House, which is affordable housing for 20 people with disabilities and a resident property manager. This week Canon Lurelean Gaines and I visited the first St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, or St. John’s Community Health (SJCH) located at 58th Street in South LA, after the clinic moved from St. John’s Cathedral years ago. We met with CEO, Jim Mangia – a visit that filled our hearts with joy.
The clinic began as a ministry of St. John’s with volunteer nurses, doctors and staff, welcoming neighborhood children to receive free preventative health care. The well-child clinic operated this way for years until the Rev. Traynham hired Mr. Mangia to take the lead.
“In 1988 I was working in Oakland Ca with black and brown people with HIV/AIDS, and we couldn’t get them across the bridge to receive experimental treatments, even though there was no cure at the time. I became aware first hand of the real health disparities that exist among people, especially people of color without health insurance and with limited financial means,” explained Mr. Mangia.
He continued: “So, when St. John’s Church advertised an opening with their clinic, I was applied and was hired by The Rev. Traynham and his interview team.”
Today, the clinic that was opened by volunteers as a ministry is located in 21 physical locations, has three mobile clinics. They offer primary, dental, and vision care, behavioral health, maternal health, HIV/AIDs testing and treatment, transgendered health care, as well as operating the largest re-entry program for persons who were formally incarcerated behind bars. SJCH employs over 100 physicians and 400 union staff at a living wage, and operates with a budget over 151M. Repeatedly, the leadership of SJCH has identified areas of needs and health disparities. In response, they have responded by providing services, advocating on behalf of various communities; they have changed and written state policies, and they have secured funding for ongoing care and services where there once were none.
This includes the extension of state health care insurance benefits to all people, regardless of documentation status. During the COVID pandemic they secured the freezers needed to store vaccinations, which enabled their teams to vaccinate over 500,000 LA residents, and kept our children, families, neighbors and communities safe. Their list of services, or ministries continues to grow as do their locations, with the dedication, love and commitment of the SJCH leadership and staff.
What began as a ministry of our church is now a part of the fabric of LA, in the communities of greatest need, providing quality health care and services by professionals thanks to Mr. Mangia and his team, and St. John’s Cathedral. And the people say, Amen!
Love and blessings,