LASALLE CEO SEES MEDICAL WORK AS HIS CALLING
(San Bernardino, Calif.) Dr. Albert Arteaga, a career-long pediatrician and founder and president of the Inland Empire’s LaSalle Medical Associates, has said his primary goal for LaSalle’s five clinics is making office visits as simple as possible.
“I wanted everyone to feel that going to the doctor was no more intimidating than going to the grocery store,” he said.
Born in San Diego of a Seventh-day Adventist missionary father from Michoacan, Mexico, Arteaga came by his love of, and care for, people honestly. It was almost pre-ordained that the young man would feel naturally urged to enter medical practice, and for more than two decades he has specialized in treating children.
After the family returned from ministering to Adventists in Argentina, Arteaga’s medical training came at Universidad LaSalle in Mexico City. Graduation in 1976, was followed by four years of internship. In 1984, after his pediatric residency at Loma Linda University’s Medical Center, he embarked on individual practice in Fontana.
As the practice grew, doctors were added to the staff and what was now called LaSalle Medical Associates expanded facilities, ultimately adding two in San Bernardino, and others in Hesperia and Lake Elsinore. Today, LaSalle serves more than 100,000 patients annually.
Inspired by his father’s calling to the ministry, Arteaga has been driven to serve, especially those with low income. “For the 20 plus years I have been in practice, we have never turned away a patient because they couldn’t pay,” Arteaga said. “As the son of an Adventist minister, I know I have an obligation to help whenever I can.” As a result, the five LaSalle clinics are California’s enrollment leader in the state’s Healthy Families program, offering low and no-cost health care to uninsured children.
And when it came to aiding Inland Empire survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Arteaga was Johnny-on-the-spot with totally free services, plus donating $1,000 to support the various pastors helping with hurricane relief.
Arteaga is also unique as a leader in welcoming Medi-Cal patients, those low-income adults and children, the elderly and the disabled. Numerous physicians refuse Medi-Cal patients simply because doctors make very little money doing so. For Arteaga
it’s one more chance to give something to the communities he serves while helping people in need who are reluctant to seek medical care because they feel they just can’t afford it. “Ultimately,” he says, “it’s the children who would suffer. And I don’t want that.”
LaSalle Medical Associates doesn’t stop there, either. For seven years Arteaga’s
facilities have offered free immunization clinics for Inland Empire’s children twice a year at their “Immunization Fairs” in San Bernardino. Arteaga and his staff, which is about 200 people, also organize health care exhibitors to introduce the public to such important life-saving issues as car safety for children, pregnancy health, childhood obesity and more.
“Our objective,” says Ruthy Argumedo, LaSalle’s marketing director, “is to inform the area’s parents about the importance of preventative health for their children. Prevention is so much easier than healing later problems. Our goal with these fairs, and with all our clinics, is to help parents understand how to keep their children well in the first place.”
How has LaSalle’s practice changed over the past year? “Everyone seems to want everything fast,” Arteaga says. “We want patients to be on their way as quickly as possible, of course. But first, we want to get it right, get it pleasant, then get it fast. There are times, though, when people just have to wait. We don’t want that, and patients don’t want that.”
A woman may have made an appointment for one child and bring in three, Arteaga said. An earlier patient might have come in for a simple check up and find they have other problems that must be dealt with on the spot; a mother may have brought in her daughter for a basic immunization then lay out paperwork from the school for a full physical.
As a natural evolution for LaSalle, the clinics now include family and internal medicine, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology along with the on-going pediatric care. Again, serving the health care community in every way they can, harkening back to Arteaga’s “obligation to help whenever I can.”
LaSalle Medical Associates’ five Inland Empire clinics are at 17557 Arrow Boulevard in Fontana, 1505 17th Street and 565 North Mount Vernon Avenue both in San Bernardino, 16455 Main Street in Hesperia and Lake Elsinore’s on 31762 Mission Trail. For more information about LaSalle Medical Associates contact (909) 890-0407 or go to www.lasallemedical.com.
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