Section: Mission Hospital News

Camino Health Center Opens Second Site to Help Underserved People in South Orange County


Camino Health Center, a San Juan Capistrano health center affiliated with Mission Hospital, has opened a second site in San Clemente. Camino seeks to improve the health of the area’s underserved through high-quality medical services, adult dental services for established medical patients, behavioral health services, and the federally-funded Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) health and nutrition program. Camino will also open a third health center in Lake Forest in the fall.

“There’s a widely believed misperception that Orange County, particularly south Orange County, is a region of wealth,” said Debra Drew, chief executive officer, Camino Health Center, which has helped more than one million men, women and children in its more than thirty years serving the community. “The reality is that twenty-four percent of families in Orange County live in poverty. We have an ever-increasing number of community members who have nowhere to go for affordable or no-cost quality health care. Camino Health Center is bridging that gap and has become their medical home.”

The expansion of services comes at a time when health care organizations are focusing not only on caring for people when they’re sick but preventing them from illness. Regular checkups, education about exercise and eating nutritious foods, and caring for people mind, body and spirit are among the focuses.

The 2,100-square-foot clinic at 1031 Avenida Pico addresses the broader needs of wellness, offering a variety of services in a primary care setting, including adult dental, behavioral health and nutritional counseling.

Designed with the dignity of the patient in mind, the new health center features five exam rooms, including a talking room where patients can sit with providers to get their questions answered, discuss medication changes, or go over lab results.

Camino Health Center, which receives federal funds, has been designated as a patient-centered medical home by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA). Patient-centered medical homes are an alternative to fragmented care and can improve the patient’s experience and can lead to safer and better care, according to the NCQA.

Camino’s focus on serving its patients in the way patients want to be served is augmented by the health center’s strong affiliation and symbiotic relationship with Mission Hospital.

Because of the health center, patients who once would have gone to Mission Hospital’s emergency department now have a medical home. The health center is also a resource for patients discharged from Mission Hospital who need follow-up care. Center providers and staff work closely with clinicians at Mission Hospital to provide care for the uninsured and underinsured. Mission Hospital provides grant money to Camino through its Care for the Poor programs; and St. Joseph Health System, of which Mission Hospital is a part, provides legal services, administrative support, and other expertise.

In the fall, Camino will also open a third licensed health center in Lake Forest and will share a 20,000 square foot building with Mission Hospital’s Family Resource Center. The licensed health center will also include expanded services such as optometry. The Family Resource Center will double in size from 5,000 square feet at its current location on Rockfield Boulevard to 10,000 square feet in the new building. Camino does not currently have a health center in Lake Forest, so the new building will allow Camino to expand into these communities with few primary care services.

All Camino Health Center physicians are board-certified, and the center staff speak 12 languages, allowing them to serve diverse populations.

“Everyone here has a calling for this work,” Drew said.

For more information about Camino Health Center: