After losses ballooned to an estimated $250,000 in the 2004-2005 fiscal year, the clinic is reporting a surplus of about $150,000 for the 2005-2006 year, a gain that is significant in pulling the clinic out of the hole.
The gain allowed the clinic to keep operating on a daily basis, however it is still struggling to make up the remaining $100,000 of the deficit, Bent said.
He credits the gains to what he calls "heroic efforts" by the staff, as well as good planning on his part.
Bent grew up in a family business — parade float building. He also ran the UCI Family Health Center in Santa Ana, the largest clinic in Orange County, and believes a combination of business sense and medical skill has helped him put the clinic's finances into the black for the year.
The money has allowed the clinic to make needed renovations including new paint in exam rooms, landscaping and benches.
It has also allowed the clinic to hire several new volunteer specialists to give its service depth in everything from neurology to nutrition. The clinic was also able to hire one new full-time family practitioner, Dr. Antoinette San Bartolome, who is in her seventh month at the clinic.
According to Bent, there is still plenty to do on the clinic's wish-list, such as a new roof. One major project he said he would love to have off his list is to retire the clinic's mortgage.
In order to make up for the losses, Bent and other key staff members took pay deductions in 2005 to avoid cutting too deeply into many programs. The co-payment was also doubled — from $10 to $20.
Since then the staff has gotten back the cuts it took and its services are back to full strength.
Bent said the key to keeping the clinic on the right path is public donations, which he said can be a precarious spot to be in for a nonprofit medical outfit.