For the last eight years, Shirley Dettloff has gone in for regular appointments at a clinic whose patients appear far removed from her own walk of life.
She drives her own car to the waiting room at 8041 Newman Ave., while many of the other clients walk or take the bus. She sits in the small waiting room, surrounded by young families with strollers, and often surmises that she is the only person in the room with health insurance.
Dettloff, the former mayor of Huntington Beach, joined the Huntington Beach Community Clinic board of directors shortly after leaving the City Council in 2002. The rules of the clinic, overseen by the Los Angeles-based group AltaMed, stipulate that 51% of board members must be patients there. So Dettloff has gone in for treatment for nearly a decade among some of the least privileged residents of the city she once governed.