It was business as usual last week at the East Los Angeles Health Task Force, where seniors came for their annual blood pressure screenings and other medical tests.
Perhaps the only evidence that something was amiss was a calendar in the office, which normally blocks out every Wednesday and Thursday for patient visits. But East Los Angeles Municipal Judge Henry Barela ruled Sept. 10 that the county could evict the clinic from the county-owned Centro Maravilla. He gave clinic officials 45 days to move out.
The calendar in the clinic’s main office leaves the days blank after Oct. 26, and volunteers wondered what would become of the clinic.
The judge’s decision came after a year of wrangling between the county and task force to reduce the clinic’s space to make room for other agencies that want to operate out of the center at 4716 E. Brooklyn Ave.
“We’re still actively seeing patients,” said Executive Director Susan Arellano. “We’re not referring them anywhere else. We’re going to aggressively assure the patients that the services will continue.”
In the meantime, 14 clinic employees will continue their claims against the county related to an April 1 lockout during which sheriff’s deputies were called to remove the staff from the clinic.
Clinic attorney Antonio Rodriguez said Wednesday that he believes there are at least two grounds for an appeal: the county’s failure to show good cause to evict, and the issue of retaliatory eviction. The clinic contends the county is retaliating because of the employee claims filed over the April 1 lockout. Rodriguez said he is awaiting word from the task force board of directors on whether to appeal.
Although she has found an alternative site, Arellano said she does not want to stop serving the people of the neighborhood: “You can’t replace 18 years of history. They won’t ever replace the services we’ve provided there.”
Arellano was scheduled to meet with the task force’s board of directors late last week to decide what action to take.