Where our patients live and work
For a glimpse of real-life Ventura County, follow our Locals Only tour. The four stops below provide an overview of the neighborhoods our patients come from and the communities that entrust us with their health care.
Click the 'Explore From' button for directions to a central location in each community. Stop by the 'Local Flavor' suggestions for a meal or a treat, or just spend some time exploring the areas on your own.
Visiting the four areas in order will give you a loop around most of Western Ventura County. Completing a driving loop of the first three stops requires about 45 minutes of driving time, and making the trip out to Santa Paula adds an additional 30 minutes.
While originally Chumash land, beginning in the late 1700s downtown Ventura and the land to the Northwest was occupied by one of California's original Missions, San Buenaventura. In the 1920s an oil boom spurred development, and the Avenue filled with shops, industry and neighborhoods. In the 1950s the 101 freeway was constructed, scattering the Tortilla Flats community that had brought together Chumash, Mexican immigrants, low-income relocators after the dust bowl and other minority communities. Nowadays its a working-class section of town with a large Latino community, a vibrant art scene (check out Bell Arts Factory for starters), an urban cycling scene (looking at you, Bike HUB), and some of the best Mexican food in Ventura County.
The Ventura Harbor is an interesting cross section of the city's life. There is tourism, sure, with hotels, restaurants and gift shops. But it's also an active commercial harbor, giving work to fishermen, oil rig workers, and various other industries that take advantage of the resources of the channel. It is also a residential community, as many live on boats or in the large homeless encampment on vacant city land across Harbor Blvd.
Oxnard also falls within Chumash territory, and much of the area was used for cattle grazing. At the beginning of the 20th century a sugar beet factory was built and the town of Oxnard was created. Two naval bases, Port Hueneme and Point Mugu, are the only major ports between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A few power plants provide electricity to much of the region. There are large oil fields under much of the city, and the plains surrounding the city support a large strawberry crop in addition to a range of other agriculture. Much of the population of Oxnard works to support these industries, including a large Mixtecan population from southern Mexico. The Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project does outstanding advocacy work for this community - tune in to their Radio Indigena at 94.1 FM - and the County runs a Farmworker Resources Program to support working conditions. There is a diverse socioeconomic blend, from nicer beachfront homes to impoverished neighborhoods like La Colonia, which received the lowest score in the entire state for its unhealthy built environment. More than 20 years ago, the county's Las Islas Family Medical Group was founded as the neighborhood clinic for this community, and now runs a vibrant FQHC practice employing many VCMC alumni.
The city of Santa Paula grew up around citrus orchards and the Union Oil Company in the late 1800s. To this day, the major industry is agriculture, with thriving citrus and avocado orchards that fill the valley, though a bit of a residentential building boom is underway as affordable housing is hard to find in Southern California. There is a small hospital in the hills overlooking the town that the County of Ventura purchased out of bankruptcy in 2005 and has since revived. The Santa Paula Hospital, and two clinic sites in town, comprise the majority of the medical care available for this fast-growing community.