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Meet Jay Lee of Venice Family Clinic in Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jay Lee.

Jay, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I joined Venice Family Clinic as Chief Medical Officer in October 2016. Prior to this, I worked in Long Beach for nearly a dozen years as a primary care physician, faculty member at a residency program, and medical director of practice transformation. I am a family physician by training inspired by my work as a medical volunteer in rural post-war El Salvador during the mid-1990’s and firmly believe in the relational, longitudinal, cradle-to-grave ethos of my medical specialty.

As a college student in the pre-internet Silicon Valley, I saw many of my pre-med buddies choose careers in tech. I thought tech was interesting but was drawn to the idea of making an impact on our shared human struggle with health. That idea resulted in my year in El Salvador, where I was on the front line supporting local Salvadoran physicians and working on “upstream” issues such as building a potable water system. Returning stateside, I applied to medical school and matriculated at USC, where I learned the art of medicine on the wards at the “old” county hospital, then matched into family medicine residency at Long Beach Memorial.

The deeper I got into health care, the more I realized how critical strong physician leadership is to ensuring patients and communities have the best opportunity to make health primary. That’s why I got involved with practice transformation: to innovate the way we deliver health care services to achieve the triple aim of better value, better experience, and better health. In many ways, the innovation and entrepreneurship I witnessed in Silicon Valley two decades ago have (finally) become part of today’s health care sector. That spirit is what drives me to become the physician leader I can be for the patients and community we serve at Venice Family Clinic.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road has certainly not been linear. There are the long hours as a physician and a leader, the almost constant worry about patients, the keeping up with the latest medical science, the documenting of care in the electronic medical record, and the daily bearing witness to raw, human stories balanced with the need for self-care and family time, What makes the struggle worth it as a physician are those moments when a patient thanks you or hugs you or experiences a health breakthrough. As a leader, the struggle is different but no less gratifying and more on a population-level: improving screening rates for colon cancer, patients feeling like their care team is attentive to their health needs, or working towards housing more homeless patients with our community partners. Being a physician and working in a community health center is more than a job, it’s a calling.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Venice Family Clinic – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Venice Family Clinic has been a cornerstone of health care services for those in need in Los Angeles for nearly 50 years. We are historically a free clinic and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, have expanded our services to serve 24,000+ patients by becoming a federally-qualified community health center. The core of our work is in primary care and we deliver all that primary care has to offer via a relationship with your trusted care team (physician/NP/PA plus nursing, coordinators, and pharmacists). Furthermore, we offer sub-specialty services via our network of volunteers via partners like UCLA Health, Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, and Providence Health.

We are most proud of our mission: serving those in need. What this means is our care teams do all that we can to deliver high-quality medical care to all of our patients regardless of whatever life obstacles they may face. As you might imagine, many of our patients have significant financial and/or social challenges including homelessness. Our care teams partner closely with our patients to treat their medical conditions and to provide the support necessary to overcome life’s challenges. It is work that gives all of our lives great meaning and purpose.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I like the diversity in our city best.
I like the high cost of living in our city least.

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