CARE During COVID-19

Dignity Health—St. Mary Medical Center expands services to meet the needs of the community

2020 is certain to be a year no one will ever forget. The COVID-19 Pandemic has been challenging, but one thing that has become evident through this challenge is that St. Mary Medical Center is a strong pillar in the Long Beach community. The hospital has received an overwhelming response from hundreds of businesses and people who just want to help healthcare workers, as they continue to do everything possible to keep our community healthy.  

“The health and safety of the community matters more to us than anything else,” shared Carolyn Caldwell, St. Mary Medical Center’s Hospital President. “Part of ensuring the health of our community is meeting them where they are, that’s why programs like our CARE Center are so vital to our mission of improving the health of the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all.”

The CARE Center began more than 35 years ago as an HIV/AIDS treatment and education program serving the greater Long Beach area, and has evolved into one of the largest LGBTQ health centers in the South Bay/Los Angeles area. Paul Lovely, Executive Director of the CARE Center, said, “CARE’s dedicated and compassionate team of clinicians, social workers, dieticians, therapists, and others, provide thousands of people with necessary services, including mental health support, housing and food resources, medical and dental care, plus education and prevention.” 

During the COVID-19 public health crisis, the CARE Center has greatly expanded its food pantry, doubling the number of clients served and providing delivery to the clients who are homebound. CARE’s Food Pantry is led by dietician Tammy Basile, who stated, “It is so important for our clients to receive the nutrition they need. When the pandemic began, many essentials were unavailable in the store, proteins, like meats, milk and eggs, were gone. One aspect of living a full life for those individuals with HIV/AIDS is healthy eating habits.” Thankfully, many CARE clients knew they could turn to St. Mary for help.

The pandemic has been emotionally challenging and mentally draining for millions of Americans. As such, the CARE Center’s behavioral health providers are offering counseling through telehealth, seeing a 30% increase in CARE clients needing emotional support, some because of job loss, some because of social isolation.

St. Mary Medical Center is one of less than 500 healthcare providers nationwide to earn the coveted Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation and the only facility in the greater Long Beach area. “Being a great leader requires that you lead by example,” noted Paul Lovely. “CARE Center has always been a leader in LGBTQ services, and our team’s ability to quickly adapt to the challenges of the pandemic are proof that the CARE Center is a great leader.” 


To learn more about the CARE Center at St. Mary, visit dignityhealth.org/stmary/care.