Laguna Beach Community Clinic Celebrates 50 Years

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The Laguna Beach Community Clinic, which is celebrating 50 years of serving the community, is planning to expand its offerings in 2020, including increasing staff, offering dental services and senior care, and remodeling the lobby.

The Laguna Beach Community Clinic was created by a group of volunteer physicians and local activists in 1970 who believed in access to health care regardless of one’s ability to pay.

“It’s a time for reflecting on our roots, celebrating the individuals who’ve made a lasting impact on our community’s health, and casting our vision for the future,” said Dr. Jorge Rubal, medical director and chief executive officer of the Clinic.

Dr. Jorge Rubal, Medical Director and CEO

Long-time supporters Dr. Korey Jorgensen and George Heed have gifted the clinic $50,000 in celebration of the anniversary and to help the Clinic with its expanded offerings.

“Fifty years doesn’t come around for many nonprofits; it really speaks to a mark of excellence in meeting the health needs of our community. Over the last three to four years we’ve seen a tremendous period of growth and expansion of services that are greatly needed,” said Heed, a former board member. Heed is credited with establishing the Clinic’s endowment fund.

“We also wanted to honor the very dedicated staff I’ve had the privilege of working with; you can’t find a smarter, more compassionate group of people,” added Jorgensen, who started working at the Clinic as a family physician in 1972 and quickly rose to the position of medical director.

Dr. Korey Jorgensen and George Heed with Dr. Rubal, center.

“As a friend of George and Korey, I’m not surprised at this latest example of their long standing professional, personal and financial support of the Clinic…George and Korey’s ongoing commitment to supporting this invaluable community asset is commendable and I hope it inspires many more to follow in their footsteps,” said Roya Cole, board member and 50th celebration co-chair.

The Clinic was created by a group of volunteer physicians and local activists in 1970 who believed in access to health care regardless of one’s ability to pay. By the mid-80s, it adopted a sliding fee scale, and started to receive major grants for its groundbreaking work in HIV/AIDS education, testing and treatment led by Jorgensen. “It was a time when the HIV/AIDS community was extremely underserved, and Laguna Beach was at the epicenter—everyone knew someone who was dying of the disease,” recalled Dr. Jorgensen. Thanks to a grant from the Ryan White Foundation, and Jorgensen’s work, the Clinic quickly found its place at the forefront of HIV/AIDS care. In 1994, the Clinic purchased its own building, a facility that today includes a pharmacy, lab and dental offices.

Dr. Tom Bent took the helm in 2002, navigating the Clinic through the challenges of expanding its scope of services to meet a growing patient population. Thanks in large part to Bent’s commitment to community health, he was able to recruit a team of medical professionals who, like him, have been recognized by their peers for achievements in their field of practice. In 2016, the torch was passed to Dr. Jorge Rubal, MD, MBA.

Mark Orgill and Roya Cole, board members and 50th celebration co-chairs

“Our community is very fortunate to have had the Clinic led by strong and visionary leadership over the decades. Dr. Rubal has continued in that vein by securely placing the Clinic on a path to financial sustainability through achieving a Federally Qualified Health Center designation for the Clinic. We’re already seeing a significant boost in government reimbursements, and doors are opening for additional government funding,” said Mark Orgill, president of the Clinic’s board of directors and 50th celebration co-chair.

“I’m honored to be heading the Clinic at this juncture in our history. Our vision for expansion is only achievable thanks to the dedication, strategic thinking, and roll-up-your-sleeves hard work of the men and women who came before me,” Rubal said.

The Clinic’s plans for expansion in 2020 include increasing staff, specifically adding another family physician to meet the needs of its growing patient population, and to hire a full time licensed clinical social worker to address the mental health needs of its patients. The Clinic is also finalizing its partnership arrangement with Dr. Carlos Garcia of Laguna Beach Smile in order to provide dental services as part of its comprehensive care offerings. There are also plans to remodel the lobby in late spring.

“This vision for the future emerged from our 2018 Board of Directors Strategic Planning Retreat, and like everything we do at the Clinic, our plans are evidence-based,” Rubal said. Citing the 2016 U.S. Census and studies submitted to the Federal Office of Health Resources and Services Administration, he said there are plans for a satellite office that will focus on senior care.

“Through all the years we’ve been operating, we’ve done more than deliver excellent health care services, we’ve become a reliable, comfortable medical home to our friends and neighbors,” Rubal said.

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