Though Kaiser Permanente is known for its massive medical facilities in neighborhoods including Los Feliz and West Los Angeles, the Oakland-based health system has been branching out with smaller offices such as one it opened last month in Bunker Hill.

Occupying more than 10,000 square feet in the Bank of America building, the new Downtown L.A. Hope Street Medical Office features a primary care center and occupational medicine suite whose services include family and internal medicine, women’s health care, physical therapy, a nurse’s clinic as well as lab and imaging capabilities.

“We estimate that about 40,000 to 44,000 patients who belong to Kaiser live or work in the downtown area,” said internist Kim Tran, the physician in charge of the Hope Street location. “It makes sense to have a small clinic in the community to serve those patients.”

Keeping in mind the early hours many of those patients keep, the Bunker Hill Kaiser office operates from 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

“It’s extremely important for us to be able to see patients where they live and play rather than patients having to come to a hub,” Tran said.

This marks the first time the health provider has had a downtown L.A. outpost in decades, having closed a Chinatown office in the early 1980s. At that time, the view was that patients should come to the medical centers, which feature hospitals and more specialized care, Tran said.

“Now I think that with the changing environment in health care, Kaiser Permanente just wanted to provide convenience and quality care to our patients who may live or work in the area,” she said, adding that just a decade ago a lot of downtown was empty. “Now, you drive to the Staples Center and that area, you see a lot of apartments and condos and lofts being built.”

Industrial Slump

While downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of a renaissance, the Industrial District – a 40-block, 260-acre geographic area – is still facing a number of physical and financial challenges.

According to a study released late last year by the Central City East Association in conjunction with downtown design and planning firm Aecom, the district’s economic prospects have dwindled in recent years while its homeless problem has grown.

For instance, the study says many manufacturing and seafood businesses have been leaving for neighboring cities such as Vernon, which have more favorable tax rates.

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