March 8, 2022
You know the saying: Good things come to those who wait.
This certainly rings true for Dr. Anjali Mahoney, who became Venice Family Clinic’s new chief medical officer on March 1.
“I always hoped I would work at Venice Family Clinic after medical school. But because I was a part of the National Health Service Corps, I was sent to a service area with higher need for medical providers at the time,” Mahoney said. “So when I came across the CMO position at Venice Family Clinic, I thought, ‘Wow, my dream job!’ And lo and behold, my dream came true.”
Mahoney has a strong background in health care leadership. She comes to the Clinic from Keck Medicine of USC, where she was vice chair of clinical affairs for the Department of Family Medicine, overseeing the development of its primary care program; its clinical programs and operations, including five faculty practice clinics; and its geriatric and street medicine programs. She also continued to practice medicine there, specializing in family medicine and women’s health. Prior to her role at USC, Mahoney was regional medical director for AltaMed Health Services in Orange County, managing eight clinics as well as its women’s health program.
She is looking forward to getting to know Venice Family Clinic better, especially in light of the Clinic’s recent merger with South Bay Family Health Care.
“There is a lot of incredible work going on already at Venice Family Clinic, and being a new leader here means getting to know the organization before developing goals,” Mahoney said. “So however I can be helpful is my main goal right now. I know the merger has been a huge undertaking, and I’m excited to learn more about the opportunities for us in the South Bay.”
More than just medicine
Though she had wanted to be a doctor since she was a child, Mahoney began her career in public health. After she finished her undergraduate studies at UCLA, Mahoney worked as a research assistant for the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, where she learned how government creates public health policy. Then she joined the Peace Corps and headed to Morocco as a health volunteer.
“That’s where I came face to face with how poverty, food insecurity and lack of education negatively impact people’s health,” she said. “I became a huge proponent of addressing the social determinants of health. Ensuring health equity and preventing disease starts with an equal playing field.”
When she came home, she worked at The Children’s Clinic in Long Beach as a program coordinator and grant writer, helping the clinic open several new locations. She earned a master’s degree in public health and studied the health systems of other countries, including Cuba’s, in hopes of improving health systems at home. But soon Mahoney decided she wanted a change of pace and to work with people on a more personal level as a doctor.
Inspired by Jack Geiger and the community health center movement, Mahoney became a National Health Service Corps scholar. This meant that her medical school costs would be covered, and when she graduated, she would be assigned to work in an underserved community somewhere in the United States. After finishing her residency, Mahoney went to work in Visalia, a largely agricultural city in the Central Valley of California.
She did full-spectrum family medicine there, including deliveries, cesarean sections and hospital medicine. Mahoney was medical director of three clinic sites and a hospitalist program at Family HealthCare Network in the Visalia area. To ensure her outpatients received appropriate care, she also served as chair of family medicine at the local hospital. Serving a significant migrant farm worker population, Mahoney and her team held medical clinics in the fields, bringing health care to people who would have otherwise had a difficult time coming into a brick-and-mortar location.
“I love working with immigrants and refugees and being an advocate for people who may not feel like they have a powerful voice in their own health care,” she said. “I believe health care is a human right, and it is my mission in life to ensure everyone has equal access to quality, affordable care.”
Coming full circle
Mahoney is looking forward to returning to this kind of work as chief medical officer at Venice Family Clinic.
“Venice Family Clinic has touched so many different people’s lives. Everyone I talk to about the Clinic tells me a personal story about how they did a rotation at the Clinic or know someone who came here for care and how strong its reputation for providing quality care is,” she said. “Being a part of Venice Family Clinic makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger. I’m looking forward to helping meet the needs of our patients so they can live healthier lives.”