SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — One of Santa Barbara’s top doctors is retiring. Dr. Charles Fenzi is the chief medical officer, chief executive officer and family medicine specialist. He spent five decades in medicine and helping those in need.
Dr. Fenzi was even practiced medicine before studying it. He delivered a baby while he served as a line officer in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
“Grabbed the baby from mom as the baby was delivering," said Dr. Fenzi. "Put the baby up on mom’s tummy just as we were pulling into the dock. And the ambulance was there and picked up.”
That experience inspired him to study medicine. He did his residency in Stamford, Connecticut. And eventually, joined a practice in New Mexico. There he became one of the first doctors to care for patients with AIDS.
“This was just, you saw these folks through because it was a terminal illness," said Dr. Fenzi. "This is you died from this at that time. And it was horribly political.”
Dr. Fenzi would drive 70 miles once a month to see one of his AIDS patients at her home. Going the extra mile to help those in need is what he focused on when he came to Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics in 2011.
During his ten years as the chief medical officer, he doubled the number of clinics from four to eight.
“We were able to show that there were 72% of the population of Goleta did not have a medical home. And that allowed us to bring that new clinic that’s on Calle Real and new dental clinic that’s on Kinman,” said Dr. Fenzi.
He is most proud of the team he works with at SB Clinics. And watching them help people during the pandemic and with substance abuse problems.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had," said Dr. Fenzi. "Working with the people that I’m working with and working with the patients that I’m working with is just so, so satisfying. It’s fantastic.”
Dr. Fenzi will remain the CMO and CEO until SB Clinics finds a replacement. During his retirement, he hopes to spend more time with his family, sailing and riding his bike.