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After 20 years, Sleepy Hollow still wide awake

Despite its name, Sleepy Hollow Medical Group is bustling with patients and activity. The downtown medical facility marked its 20th anniversary last week.

September 15, 2011|By Cindy Frazier
  • Dr. William Anderson, Maria Lisek and medical assistant Nicole Boehmer celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sleepy Hollow Medical Group in Laguna Beach.
Dr. William Anderson, Maria Lisek and medical assistant… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

It's 10:15 a.m. on a Monday and people are already beating a path to Sleepy Hollow Medical Group, an urgent care facility in downtown Laguna Beach.

One man has a painful foot problem and is placed in a room for treatment. An older gentleman walks in, hails Dr. William Anderson, the facility's founder, and, after some pleasantries, requests a referral to a dermatologist. Anderson writes down the name and phone number of a local dermatologist, from memory, and sends him on his way.

A third man comes in the door, holding up a bandaged finger. He thinks he might need a tetanus shot but is not sure. He has been bitten by a dog. The man is quickly shown to a room, seen by the doctor and in short order a nurse is dispatched to administer the shot.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary at the location, Sleepy Hollow has an unassuming façade at 364 Ocean Ave., but inside the facility is bustling. It is open seven days a week, and appointments are not necessary.

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"This is how it goes," Anderson said. "Sometimes there's nothing for an hour or so and then everything happens at once."

Anderson, a graduate of the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago, started a private practice in the early 1980s in Laguna Beach, after serving as a U.S. Navy flight surgeon at the old Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, and as director of student health services at UC Irvine. He has also served as an emergency room doctor and is a board-certified ER physician.

"My background as a flight surgeon and ER doctor is a perfect one for urgent care," he said.

A flight surgeon's job is to make sure pilots are physically and mentally fit to fly; as part of his training, he was given flight lessons, but confined his aeronautical career to a single solo flight.

Loving the ocean and surfing, the Chicago native first opened his doors at Sleepy Hollow, on South Coast Highway, in 1980 and lived in an adjacent beach house.

After a few years, he migrated up the coast to Big Sur, where he practiced medicine for a few years amid the lush forests of the mountainous area, but eventually found the opportunities for a thriving medical practice to be limited in the remote coastal location. So he returned to Laguna Beach, and on Sept. 9, 1991, he opened his "walk-in family care" facility on Ocean Avenue, naming it Sleepy Hollow in honor of his first location.

He marked the anniversary Sept. 9 with a festive open house.

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