History of JWCH

The Rich History of JWCH Institute, Inc


The County of Los Angeles purchased the John Wesley Methodist Hospital and renamed it the John Wesley County Hospital.

October 6, 1960

A group of Los Angeles County doctors stationed at the hospital had the foresight to create a private, non-profit public benefit corporation dealing with health services, health education and medical research.  This private corporation would then provide or augment services of the hospital through additional funding obtained either through grants, contracts or private funds.  They named the newly formed corporation “The Attending Staff Association of John Wesley County Hospital, Inc.”

The activities of the Association included:  Oncology/Western Cancer Study Group with Dr. Joseph R. Bateman; The Liver Unit with Dr. Allan G. Redeker, and; Family Planning Services with Dr. Carol E. Henneman.

February 9, 1971

The John Wesley County Hospital is badly damaged in the 6.6 magnitude Sylmar earthquake.  Parts of the hospital facility can not be used.


The John Wesley County Hospital was closed and in its place a new facility was built.  That facility was initially known as the John Wesley Comprehensive Health Center which provided outpatient services only.  It was renamed and is now known as the H. Claude Hudson Comprehensive Health Center.  At that time many of the county doctors initially involved with The Attending Staff Association of John Wesley County Hospital moved to other locations including Rancho Los Amigos Hospital and Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.  The move also forced the Attending Staff Association of John Wesley County Hospital to split into two organizations, with Dr. Robert Peters forming the Liver Research and Education Foundation at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Inc.  Between the two corporations, monies were allocated based on where the doctor-in-charge was located.

Dr. Carol E. Henneman, Dr. Sidney E. Wechsler and Dr. Edward Lenoski were left with approximately $50,000 in assets and renamed The Attending Staff Association of John Wesley County Hospital, Inc as JWCH Institute, Inc.   JWCH Institute, Inc. also obtained a DBA (doing business as) John Wesley Community Health Institute, Inc.

February 1985

Phyllis Paxton was hired as Executive Director of JWCH Institute.  JWCH Institute successfully starts its Reproductive Awareness Program for at risk teenagers; its netVan (non-emergency transportation) system in Skid Row for Homeless and underserved persons; it’s HIV services programs, Skid Row Medical Outreach Team and opens the two exam-room Lynwood Family Planning clinic.


The County of Los Angeles puts out to competitive bidding several of its outpatient health facilities during the first round of the Los Angeles County 1115 Waiver.  Part of this bidding includes the Los Angeles County Clinic at the Weingart Center Association in Skid Row.  JWCH Institute successfully competes and is granted status as a Strategic Partner in its first Public Private Partnership program and takes over the medical operations of the Los Angeles County Clinic at the Weingart Center Association.  The clinic is renamed the JWCH Weingart Clinic in Skid Row.

March 2003

Executive Director Phyllis Paxton retires after eight years of service.  The agency is now a strategic partner under the Los Angeles County Public Private Partnership program.  Roger Johnson, M.Ed., is Chair of the Board of Directors.

September 2003

The JWCH Institute, Inc. Board of Directors hires Alvaro (Al). P. Ballesteros as Chief Executive Officer.  Roger Johnson is Chair of the JWCH Board of Directors.  The Board also strategically makes the decision to seek federal designation as a community health center, FQHC.

Al Ballesteros appoints internal JWCH staff to positions of leadership including Dr. Paul Gregerson, MD, MBA as Chief Medical Officer; appoints Andy Irie as Director of Administration and later Chief Administrative Officer; appoints Jeny Argame, RN, MBA as Chief Nursing Officer and Jeanne Lam, as Chief Financial Officer.  The team begins to work towards achieving federal designation as a community health center and to enhance its service delivery system.

February 2004

JWCH takes over the operations of the clinic at the PATH Mall (People Assisting the Homeless Mall).  The PATH Mall provides a one-stop shop for homeless persons to acquire housing, medical services and other support services.

October 2004

The Los Angeles based Weingart Foundation launches the Skid Row Homeless Health Initiative based on a report completed by Michael Cousineau, Ph.D., entitled:  “Neglect on the Streets: The Health and Mental Health Status and Access to Care for the Homeless Adults and Children in Central Los Angeles” published in June 2003.  The report calls attention to the major role JWCH Institute could play to improve the safety-net.  The Weingart Foundation is successful in bringing several major foundations to the initiative which represents a substantial, unprecedented investment into the medical and health infrastructure of skid row by philantrophy.  JWCH leadership takes on critical positions within the Initiative and assists in outlining a plan of action and programs to improve access and health outcomes for the homeless.

August 2004

JWCH Institute, Inc., receives its first direct-Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant for HIV prevention and testing in Skid Row.  Also in 2004, JWCH is successful in obtaining a grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services for Mobile HIV Testing and is provided with a two-exam room Mobile Van.  In June 2010, JWCH is successful in competitive bidding to continue this direct contract for an additional five years.

February 2005

With the assistance of L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, local community leaders, L.A. CARE Health Plan and the California Endowment, JWCH re-opens the Los Angeles County Bell Gardens Health Center that was closed in 2002.  For program year 2009-10, the Bell Gardens Health Center provided 12,600 medical visits to the area’s residents.

October 2005

Columnist Steve Lopez begins a series in the Los Angeles Times on the plight of the homeless living on skid row.  These columns bring heightened awareness to the medical, mental health and housing needs of the area’s homeless and spotlights the work being performed by the local service providers including JWCH Institute.

December 2005

Cesar Portillo is elected Chair of the Board of Directors.

January 2006

JWCH Institute, Inc. is designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center, FQHC by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources Services Administration.  This designation provides additional federal funding to the JWCH services system and allows the organization to access added benefits for its patients.

March 2006

With the assistance of L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, local community leaders, L.A. CARE Health Plan and the S. Mark Taper Foundation, JWCH re-opens the Los Angeles County Norwalk Health Center that was closed in 2002.  For program year 2009-10, the Norwalk Regional Health Center (S. Mark Taper Foundation Building) provided 12,363 medical visits to the area’s most needy residents.


JWCH Institute assumes operations of the medical clinic at the Covenant House targeting homeless youth living on the streets of Hollywood and Los Angeles.

October 2007

JWCH receives its first federal SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) grant to improve referral, pre-treatment and treatment to homeless in skid row.

November 2007

Project 50 is launched by L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky to address the challenges of the 50 neediest homeless persons living on the streets of skid row.  Under the direction of the L.A. County Chief Executive Officer a collaboration is brought together and JWCH is asked to provide for the medical and mental health needs of the project 50 participants.

March 2008

JWCH expands recuperative care services to the Salvation Army Bell Shelter in the City of Bell.  A total of 30 additional beds are created to assist homeless patients being discharged from local hospitals without a home to recover.  Kaiser Permanente provides significant support for the build-out and operations.  The program offers a solution to private hospitals who wish to address the post discharge needs of homeless patients.

July 2009

JWCH moves into the new Center for Community Health in Skid Row.  This new site is three-times larger than the previous JWCH Weingart Health Center and is an integrated and comprehensive health care model for homeless and uninsured persons in skid row.  In the facility JWCH is joined by USC Schools of Dental and Pharmacy, Los Angeles County Departments of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Public Health and Health Services.

The move is made possible by The Weingart Foundation which provided significant capital and assisted in raising the remaining capital to complete the project.  The Center for Community Health is view as one of the most positive outcomes of the original Skid Row Homeless Health Initiative.

October 2009

The B.E.S.T. Program (Benefits, Entitlements, Services Team) is launched with support of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.  With unprecedented support from the Department of Social Security Administration, this team begins collaborative work to qualify SSA and SSI eligible homeless persons for benefits.  The program has gained national attention.

April 2010

The Heart of Gold Thrift Store is opened in Highland Park to raise funds to support the mission of JWCH Institute.

January 2010

JWCH receives its first direct Special Projects of National Significance, SPNS grant.  These funds will provide enhanced outreach and case management to women living with HIV/AIDS.

October 19, 2010

JWCH celebrates 50 years of service to the Los Angeles County with a golden jubilee Gala Event at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in downtown Los Angeles.  JWCH honors the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for its assistance over the years and its continuing commitment to the safety-net of Los Angeles County.

November 25, 2013

JWCH corporate office moved to the City of Commerce, California.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) consider JWCH Institute, Inc. / Wesley Health Centers and its providers as Public Health Services employees, providing malpractice liability protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This health center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b, and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n).

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