North Long Beach will usher in the city’s newest park Saturday with a groundbreaking ceremony for C. David Molina Park, which will be located at the intersection of Del Amo Boulevard and Oregon Avenue.

Molina, the founder of the Fortune 500 medical giant Molina Healthcare, was an emergency room physician in Long Beach where he treated many low-income patients before breaking off into his own practice in the 1980s.

That clinic he opened was aimed at providing those low-income patients on Medi-Cal with a place to receive personalized health care. Those first clinics gave way to what eventually grew into Molina Healthcare, which employs thousands of people both nationally and in Long Beach.

“Dr. Molina showed compassion to people who needed it the most,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “He cared for every patient like they were family, and I’m very proud that this park will add to his legacy as a champion of the community.”

Molina was seen as a healthcare pioneer and has deep roots in Long Beach, having started the city’s first intensive care unit at Pacific Hospital in 1962 and serving as the director of its emergency department for over 20 years. He also worked to secure a grant to develop a paramedic system for the city and trained those first firefighters to become paramedics.

Molina died in 1996 after more than 35 years of work as a doctor and having helped found HMO services for Medi-Cal patients.

The Long Beach City Council approved the naming of the park during their weekly meeting Tuesday night with Council Members Lena Gonzalez, Dee Andrews and Roberto Uranga co-sponsoring the item.

Eighth District Councilman Al Austin whose district will house Molina Park, said naming the park after him is a nod to his legacy. Austin introduced the item to the council noting that Molina’s history of providing critical medical services to underserved communities only made it fitting for the new park to bear his name.

“Dr. Molina left his mark on Long Beach and the United States like few people have,” Al Austin said. “His job was to save lives, and his mission in life was to alleviate the suffering of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. This park honors his commitment to humanity.”

The park, which had been an empty lot prior to this weekend’s groundbreaking, will include energy efficient lighting, a walking path, fitness stations and a playground. Molina park will also include a turf soccer field.

It is being funded by a private residential developer but will be operated by the department of parks, recreation and marine.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 9:30AM Saturday, January 28 at 4951 Oregon Avenue.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.