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Laguna Beach Community Clinic turns 50

Laguna Beach Community Clinic (LBCC) turns 50 this month. 

“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,” announced Dr. Jorge Rubal, Medical Director and CEO of LBCC.

There’s a lot to be excited about, including a very generous $50,000 gift from longtime supporters Dr. Korey Jorgensen and George Heed. 

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Dr. Korey Jorgensen and George Heed

“Fifty years doesn’t come around for many nonprofits. [That longevity] really speaks to a mark of excellence in meeting the health needs of our community,” stated George Heed, former Board Member, who is credited with establishing the Clinic’s endowment fund. “Over the last three to four years, we’ve seen a tremendous period of growth and expansion of services that are greatly needed.”

Dr. Korey Jorgensen, who starting working at the Clinic as a family physician in 1972 and quickly rose to the position of Medical Director, noted: “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.”

Roya Cole, board member and 50th Celebration co-chair shares, “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. 

“Laguna Beach Community Clinic is a wonderful example of providing community-based solutions to the ever increasing medical and emotional challenges facing all of us. 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.”

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Early days at the Clinic

In 1970 “The Clinic”, as it is referred to by locals, was born. It began with a group of volunteer physicians and local activists 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 Dr. Korey Jorgensen. 

“It was a time when the HIV/AIDS community was extremely underserved, Laguna Beach was at the epicenter, and everyone knew someone who was dying of the disease,” recalls Dr. Jorgensen.

Thanks to a grant from the Ryan White Foundation and Dr. Jorgensen’s heroic efforts, the Clinic quickly found its place at the forefront of HIV/AIDS care.

Another milestone was achieved in 1994 when 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 Dr. Bent’s infectious 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.

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Dr Jorge Rubal

In 2016 the torch was passed to Jorge Rubal, MD, MBA. 

“Our community is very fortunate to have had the Clinic led by strong and visionary leadership over the decades,” comments Mark Orgill, president of the Clinic’s board of directors and 50th Celebration co-chair. 

“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.” 

Dr Rubal responds: “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.” 

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Board members Mark Orgill and Roya Cole, co-chairs of the 50th anniversary celebration

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 bringing on 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 its comprehensive care offerings. There are also plans to remodel the lobby and patient check-in area during 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,” explained Rubal. “Findings from the 2016 US Census and studies submitted to the Federal Office of Health Resources and Services Administration indicate a fast-growing population of underserved seniors in our service area; we see a need for a satellite office that focuses on senior care, and we’re starting to plan ahead in that regard as well.

“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,” concluded Rubal.

For more information, visit http://lbclinic.org/50th.