Dr. Allyson Brooks has big ideas for improving women’s health care
at Hoag Hospital. Until recently, she just wasn’t sure how she’d
pay for the path to make them a reality.
“I’ve always been envious watching what others can do,”
she said Monday. “Now, I’ll have my little pot of gold.”
That “little pot of gold” is arriving by way of a $5 million
endowment given to Brooks by philanthropists Peter and Ginny Ueberroth,
who announced the gift Monday.
The grant, awarded by the Laguna Beach couple through the Peter and Virginia
Ueberroth Family Foundation, was inspired by Brooks’ compassion
for women’s care and her leadership – first as a practicing
OB-GYN and recently as executive medical director of Hoag’s Women’s
The Ueberroth gift will advance the health institute in areas of research,
education and program development. That includes recruiting new physicians,
increasing patient navigation resources and piloting innovative women’s
The endowment is the first of its kind in Orange County to benefit women’s
health and wellness.
“Allyson Brooks is changing things and she’s putting women’s
services in areas accessible to women everywhere,” Ginny Ueberroth
said. “She is a very much loved OB-GYN. She’s out in the community
and understands the whole meaning of what we’re doing. We will be
the first to be looking at the whole community.”
Brooks has a detailed list of what she’d like to achieve.
First, she wants to plug gaps in women’s care at the hospital and
through its outreach centers in Orange County. To do that, she will create
a women’s health and wellness center that will be a sort of one-stop
shop for preventative care, wellness resources and health services.
The center will be a place where women feel taken care of and where they
can get the information and support they need, she said.
Brooks already has her eye on a mental health expert to work in reproductive
psychiatrics – an area presently underserved throughout the community.
“Some of the most troublesome times for women are hormone-related,”
she said. “These include the teen years, pregnancy, post-partum
“It’s huge. Right now to have access to psychiatrists who
have a special passion for women’s mental health is few and far
She also hopes to retain a guitarist – now on the pastoral staff
– who has had a tranquil and calming effect on patients throughout
Also, she plans to launch a center for robotic surgery that provides services
to gynecology, colorectal, thoracic, and head and neck surgeons.
And she wants acupuncturists, therapists, pre- and post-natal consultants
and nutritionists who will work alongside doctors and nurse practitioners
dedicated to women’s care in a spa-like center.
Brooks and the Ueberroths share a belief that not enough focus and attention
has been given to specifics in women’s care. The new center will
be a way to expand that not only to patients at Hoag but to many outlying
centers – including women who are currently underserved.
“I think many issues are seen as the garden variety of what happens
in life,” Brooks said. “There’s been lots of focus on
trauma and sickness. Women are different in how we think, what we worry
about and what our responses are.”
Ultimately, Brooks and the Ueberroths see the center integrating into
a countywide women’s health and domestic violence health system.
“I’d like to see a point where every woman in our community
has good health care and good health,” Ginny Ueberroth said.
Peter Ueberroth said he is proud of his wife for “being dedicated
to this and seeing it through.”
“We don’t have major wealth but it’s an important commitment
that we’ve made,” he said.
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