Patients at the Laguna Beach Community Clinic may soon have shorter wait times to see the doctor.
The United Way has approved a three-year grant to the clinic to support hiring a full-time family physician, according to a news release.
The grant will provide $56,000 the first year, with subsequent amounts to be determined, according to Monica Prado, the clinic's director of development.
"Although we have not turned away any patients in need of care, we have had some major delays in securing appointments with medical staff," Clinic Medical Director Dr. Tom Bent said in a prepared statement.
Bent said the search has begun for a physician, but filling the spot is not an easy task.
"Many sources compete for qualified family physicians," Bent said in the release. "This United Way grant will help us meet the challenge of finding the right one for the needs of our patients."
The clinic, which sees an estimated 17,000 patients a year, has reported a large increase in local demand for low-cost medical services due to job losses and the loss of health benefits resulting from the economic downturn.
Because of the high demand, some patients have waited a month or two to obtain non-urgent medical care, which potentially increased the possibility that a small problem could become a major health issue, Bent said in the release.
"The mission of the LBCC is to provide excellent medical care, regardless of the patient's ability to pay," he added. "Excellent care is timely care."
The clinic, which charges patients based on their ability to pay and does not accept insurance, is at 362 Third St. For more information, call (949) 494-0761 or visit http://www.lbclinic.org.