A one-stop community health center has replaced what was once a rundown supermarket in Linda Vista.
Although the abandoned building had been a health hazard for many years, San Diego Family Care CEO Roberta Feinberg, a Del Mar Heights resident, had long envisioned a state-of-the-art facility that could improve public health.
“I could visualize it and everybody knows when I visualize something, it may take a long time, but it usually happens,” Feinberg said. “When we heard that this was possibly available for lease, the vision became reality and we just went for it.”
A part of the nonprofit San Diego Family Care network, the new 23,000-square-foot Linda Vista Health Center opened in May, expanding the original campus and creating a one-stop medical, dental and mental health facility for San Diego families.
Over the years the building at 7011 Linda Vista Road was home to a supermarket, a thrift store and bargain outlet. It has been completely renovated and outfitted with 19 exam rooms, six dental spaces, a private mental health pavilion, a lab, a pharmacy and five waiting rooms.
While San Diego Family Care will continue to provide patient services in its original buildings located at 6973 Linda Vista Road, the new facility is expected to accommodate an additional 40,000 patient visits in its first year, up from 50,000 visits at the old facility.
“We’re continuing to do what we’ve done all these years, it’s just that Linda Vista just got a big boost,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg has led the growing nonprofit through multiple expansions over the years.
A New York native, Feinberg got her start at Linda Vista Health Care Center as a nurse when she first moved to California more than 30 years ago. She attended nursing school at the University at Buffalo, earned her master’s degree at Syracuse University and worked as a nurse in New York until she and her husband relocated to the West Coast.
After one year with Linda Vista Health Care Center, the board of directors hired Feinberg as chief executive officer.
“I am privileged to lead this because of the good work that it does,” said Feinberg, a former La Jolla resident who has lived in Del Mar Heights for 26 years.
Established in 1972, Linda Vista Health Care Center was originally a small clinic with four exam rooms and one waiting room. Over the years the health center expanded to meet the community’s growing needs.
“We kept adding buildings every time a neighbor moved out,” Feinberg said. “We now have a full city block.”
In 1987, the clinic merged with other clinics in City Heights. Today, San Diego Family Care operates seven community health centers in City Heights and Linda Vista.
Under Feinberg’s leadership, San Diego Family Care has grown from roughly 20 staff members to 272. The once $40,000 annual budget is now $24 million.
Last year, the corporation delivered 96,000 visits to individuals in need in San Diego County.
“At the beginning, I had a lot to learn, and I have learned more from my mistakes than I have from my successes,” she said. “The success has come from zigzagging through all of the funding changes in health care in 30 years. It’s been up and it’s been down.”
Feinberg said the advent of Obamacare and the expanded Medi-Cal program created the need for the new clinic.
“The clinic in Linda Vista got so impacted, we were turning people away by the thousands because of Obamacare,” she said. “They were looking for a doctor and we ran out of space.”
With $2.7 million in grants and donations, and no federal dollars, San Diego Family Care expanded Linda Vista Health Care Center, renovating and equipping the new facility. The nonprofit also signed a 30-year lease on the building, ensuring that the center will serve the community for years to come.
“We’ve increased capacity and increased access to care,” said Feinberg, noting that San Diego Family Care not only aims to improve public health, but keep people out of emergency rooms for non-emergency visits.
San Diego Family Care accepts multiple insurance types, including Medi-Cal and Medicare, and all services are available on a sliding fee scale to uninsured individuals.
“We serve everyone,” Feinberg said. “Whether they have money or not, they are welcome. No one is turned away due to inability to pay.”
For more about San Diego Family care or to donate, visit sdfamilycare.org.