After much planning and designing, the new Soboba Indian Health Clinic opened its doors at the Soboba Indian Reservation with an official ribbon cutting ceremony on March 3.
Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bill Thomsen said the new clinic, which replaces the previous one located on Donna Way in San Jacinto, sits on just over eight acres. “We have 13 exam rooms, 10 dental operatories, about 70 staff members from physicians, nurses, dentists, several registered dental assistants, a hygienist, nutritionist, optometrist, optician, two lab technicians, two X-ray staff, a facilities coordinator who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the clinic, and numerous front office staff.
“We realized we needed a much larger clinic in 2015,” Thomsen said. “Our patient numbers were increasing; we added additional staff and the existing clinic became too small overnight. Through the support of our Board of Directors, we created a capital projects program which mapped our plan to construct new San Manuel, Soboba, Morongo, Torres Martinez, Pechanga, Santa Rosa and Cahuilla Indian Health clinics. Each of these clinics are on reservation land (except for the San Manuel clinic) and a replacement for an aged clinic building. The Santa Rosa and Cahuilla clinics replaced a leased office which was located in the town of Anza. These two clinics are the first for these tribes on their reservations. All these new clinics have been completed and are open for services. Our remaining capital project is the Morongo clinic, and we are in the early stages of the schematic design planning.”
Soboba Tribal Council Chairman Isaiah Vivanco said, “We appreciate the Riverside-San Bernardino Indian health consortium’s willingness to bring this new facility to our reservation. It’s been almost 10 years in the making and we are truly excited to finally open its doors.”
Vivanco said the Soboba clinic originated on the reservation but in the 1980s, the facility was too small to accommodate Tribal members’ needs and was moved to a location in San Jacinto. In the late 1990s, there was another move to an even bigger facility that was about 14,000 square feet.
“Now, here we are, around 40 years later, coming back home to the Soboba reservation in a new state-of-the-art 40,000-sq. ft. health clinic,” he said. “It’s awesome to see all the new amenities here for our members and those of surrounding reservations.”
Some of the new services and improved past services include medical, dental, eye care, behavioral health, pharmacy, lab, WIC, nutrition, x-ray, mammography, ultrasound and a fitness center, to name a few.
“Also located on the same property is our new Commodities Food Distribution warehouse,” Thomsen said. “This is a USDA-funded program which we have had for over 40 years. Previously we leased a warehouse in Beaumont.”
Currently, the Soboba clinic is the newest, with the Cahuilla clinic having opened in Nov. 2022. It is the largest as the Torres Martinez, Pechanga and Cahuilla Clinic are each about 11,605 square feet. The Santa Rosa clinic is about 3,500 square feet. The new Morongo clinic’s size has not been determined but will only be larger than Soboba’s clinic because it will include a Board of Directors conference room and some administrative offices at that location.
Soboba Delegate Julie Arrietta-Parcero has been representing the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians on the RSBCIHI board since 2013. She enjoys helping to write policies, attend conferences and assist with hosting conferences. She welcomes the many opportunities she is given to communicate with other reservations regarding keeping all the clinics up to date and ensuring everything is running as smoothly as possible.
“I feel seeing this clinic completed has been a big accomplishment for the employees and the patients and I’m glad to see it back on the reservation,” Arrietta-Parcero said. “I was so proud to be a part of it from start to finish.”
Camille Diaz, also a Soboba Delegate, began serving on the board two and one-half years ago because she felt it was important to give back to her Tribe. “Healthcare has always been a priority to me and quality care for the wellbeing of our Tribal members is crucial,” she said. “It’s an honor to be part of ensuring that Tribal members get the care that they need.”
Diaz has been the school nurse at Noli Indian School on the Soboba Reservation for nearly seven years. She said the new Soboba Indian Health Clinic will better support the community due to its convenient location and increased staffing levels. “Most of all, I am impressed by all of the hard work and dedication from staff and board members to make this a reality,” Diaz said.
Thomsen, who has been with RSBCIHI since February of 1996, said the Soboba clinic has consistently been RSBCIHI’s busiest clinic for all clinical services, adding, “We expect this new clinic to accommodate more patients based on the additional medical examination rooms, dental operatories and behavioral health office space.”
In 2022, there were 4,416 patients seen with a total of 17,876 visits across all clinical departments at the Soboba site.
Healthcare services are available to any eligible federally recognized Native American or Alaskan Native who resides within the two-county service area of RSBCIHI. The Soboba Indian Health Clinic, at 23119 Soboba Road, is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Wednesday, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday.
For more information, 951-654-0803, 951-487-9627, 800-851-5816 or www.rsbcihi.org.
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians