Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center Reaches Milestone in Construction of Watts Medical Offices and Watts Counseling and Learning Center
DOWNEY, Calif., October 7, 2022 — Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center recently celebrated a construction milestone—the official topping out of the soon-to-be Watts Medical Offices and Watts Counseling and Learning Center, which is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2024.
On September 29 during a small ceremony attended by Kaiser Permanente leaders, the construction team and members of the community, the final steel beam was placed on the building’s frame completing the framework of the facility.
The facility is the first of its kind. The approximately 60,000-square-foot, 3-story building will offer a range of amenities to the residents of Watts and surrounding communities, including new medical services, expansion of counseling, education and preschool services, an open-air play yard, community rooms, and a plaza. The new building replaces the previous Watts Counseling and Learning Center building, a 9,000-square-foot facility that opened in 1967, and provides counseling, outreach, and educational services to local families.
“[Building] this new facility in Watts gives me great pride because it provides a concrete example—literally and figuratively—of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to our members and the communities we serve,” said Gregg Durkee, interim vice president and area manager, Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center.
Maria Aguirre, director, Watts Counseling and Learning Center, spoke about the legacy of Kaiser Permanente in Watts and how this construction project is more than a building, it represents the kind of impact Kaiser Permanente can make in communities. “Since 1967 the Center has been here, and [now] we are doubling down on our community by bringing the best that Permanente medicine has to offer,” she said.
When it opens, the Watts Medical Offices will be a full-service medical office. “We will provide adult primary care, pediatrics, Ob-Gyn, and mental health services. It will also have a nurse clinic, lab, imaging, and pharmacy services,” said JT Lee, MD, area medical director, Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. “We are continuing to partner with the Watts Counseling and Learning Center to help invest in our communities.”
The facility will combine a new medical office and the Watts Counseling and Learning Center on a single campus, which will improve access to quality care, early childhood education, educational therapy, and social health for the Watts community.
“This building is going to have such an impact on Kaiser Permanente’s vision for total health,” said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, chief operating officer/senior vice president and chief strategy, growth and experience officer, Kaiser Permanente SCAL and Hawaii Region. “Certainly, total health is physical, but it’s [also] mental, it’s spiritual, it’s emotional—it’s the full picture. And now members won’t have to travel to multiple places to try to get that total health.”
Kaiser Permanente Downey’s Chief Administrative Officer, Lisa López, RN, addressed the crowd by talking about her connection to the community. “My mother grew up right across the alley on 102nd street. To be part of this project is incredibly amazing to me, and I cannot tell you how much I look forward to being able to bring Kaiser Permanente to this community,” she said.
Pictured above: The Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center staff (from left to right: Alice Holt, administrative services supervisor; Tanasa Davis, associate director; Alina Sgattoni, clinical program manager; Bill Coggins, founding director; Ruth E. Villaneda, psychiatric social worker, Martha Gonzalez, administrative services coordinator; Maria Aguirre, director; and, Alfred McCloud, psychiatric social worker.) stand in front of the future site of the new Kaiser Permanente Watts Medical Offices and Watts Counseling and Learning Center, which will improve access to quality care, early childhood education, educational therapy, and social health for the Watts community.