Clinic digs in heels for health reform

Special Report: Health Care In Huntington

Obama administration's long-anticipated reform is expected to bring many more patients to local health clinic.

July 14, 2010|By Michael Miller,
  • Sonia Munguia, 38, is a former patient at Huntington Beach Community Clinic who is recovering from breast cancer with her daughters Alondra Vargas-Munguia, 10, center, and Fernanda Vargas-Munguia, 11, at their home in Stanton Monday, July 12.
Sonia Munguia, 38, is a former patient at Huntington Beach… (Scott Smeltzer,…)

Editor's note: This is the first in a three-part series about the effects of the Obama administration's health-care reform on Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley health-care providers and their patients.

When Sonia Munguia knocked on the door of the Huntington Beach Community Clinic two years ago, she had no insurance, little money and a set of medical results from Mexico.

The Stanton resident had called clinics around Southern California after discovering a lump in her breast, but they rejected her as being too young for their free-treatment programs. Eventually, she became so desperate that she drove to Tijuana for a mammogram and ultrasound.

Shortly after she returned, a friend pointed her to the Huntington Beach clinic, where she was able to get an appointment within two days. Through a program the clinic runs with the breast cancer awareness nonprofit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Munguia was able to have another mammogram and ultrasound for $25. The results showed that she had cancer, and staff connected her to an oncologist in the community.


"That clinic, they helped me," said Munguia, who works as a waitress and still returns for annual checkups. "It's a great, great clinic."

In the next half-decade, the clinic may have considerably more patients like Munguia. The Obama administration's long-anticipated health-care reform, which passed in March, aims to expand health insurance to nearly 100% of Americans. Even though the clinic serves uninsured patients, administrator Tracey Gould foresees an influx of visitors largely because, with the government aiming to add 32 million people to insurance rolls, many hospitals expect patients to vastly outnumber doctors.

"I think none of us could even guess what that number could be," Gould said about her clientele in coming years. "But I definitely see an expansion of services at community health centers."

Expanding services

Gould, who took the helm as adminstrator last fall, is used to seeing the waiting room packed. Day after day, her clinic south of the 405 Freeway fills with children and seniors, injured surfers and women seeking prenatal care. Some can pay, some can't, but the clinic's creed is to accept everyone — or, at least, point them to another facility if it can't provide the needed services.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles