August 03, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Cultural Competency Physician Leadership
Name:Jorge Robles, M.D.
Family physician Jorge F. Robles, M.D., has been a community leader since his arrival in the Imperial Valley in the early 1990’s. In addition to his formal training and professional experience, Dr. Robles brought something that no amount of training could provide, but was just as valuable: his cultural awareness, ability to communicate with the local population and to understand the realities of their lives.
He attributes his success to the fact that he has always been a good listener. When interviewed, he soon speaks of the positive influence of his parents and grandparents and his upbringing in Mazatlan, Mexico, and a short stint at a Catholic school in Los Angeles as also having influenced him in his pursuit of his career.
Imperial County was then and continues now to be one of the poorest counties in California, where one in four people lives in poverty, according to census data. Imperial County has the third-highest poverty rate in the state, after Fresno and Tulare counties.
When asked why he became a doctor, his answer is that he always wanted to be one. When asked why he came to the Valley, his response was that it was the area of greatest need. As he describes himself, he was among the first modern family practice physicians with a structured residency program to arrive in the Imperial Valley.
Soon thereafter, Dr. Robles began his involvement in improving the opportunities for the local citizenry. As the first director for El Centro Regional Hospital’s Outpatient Clinics, located in El Centro and Calexico, he was instrumental in insuring that the local residents could receive medical attention regardless of their economic circumstances. Dr. Robles was also involved in bringing a number of specialists to the clinics.
Dr. Robles also provides care to intellectually disabled participants at ARC Imperial Valley, a non-profit corporation providing programs and services for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.
“Dr. Robles is bilingual and bicultural, and that is ideal for our population since most of our families do not speak English and many are older parents who expect a level of respectful formality in conversations,” said ARC Imperial Valley CEO Arturo Santos. “Dr. Robles is keenly aware of this and is a master at making parents and patients feel comfortable.”
“Dr. Robles is committed to insuring appropriate care for these individuals in a way that allows them the dignity of participation,” said Andres Jacobo, M.D., past-president of the Imperial County Medical Society. “For many the developmentally disabled community is ignored or shuffled to the side. Dr. Robles has made them a priority. His efforts on their behalf can only be applauded.”
Dr. Robles’s pledge to improve medical care in the Imperial Valley is particularly evident in his commitment to training future physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants from various medical schools during their rural medicine and family medicine training periods.
Dr. Robles has also been a principal leader and medical director for the Imperial Valley ROP program called “Faces of the Future,” dedicated to capturing the interest of local youth in the field of medicine, assisting them in planning for future positions within the field of medicine.
These students represent the at-risk youth of the community who are members ethnically underrepresented groups. Many had never even considered the possibility of becoming successful members of the working community, much less the medical community. Through the program, Dr. Robles was directly involved in collaborating with other physicians and the hospitals to insure the students were exposed to a wide variety of experiences. Today, some of those same students are actively pursuing careers in the field of medicine.
“When one considers the potential direct and indirect impact of those students and on our community, the future medical community and the individuals they will impact in the future, Dr. Robles’ contribution to our community is incalculable,” said Dr. Jacobo.