Four-year-old Paula Mota suffers from asthma and requires regular checkups.
Her family moved to Mesa from California two months ago in hopes it would improve her condition. But her father’s new job doesn’t offer health insurance.
On Tuesday, the girl’s mother, Lucy Mota, turned to Mesa’s CARE Partnership Pediatric Clinic for help. A friend told her good things about the clinic, which treats some 4,400 uninsured children a year, and praised the quality of Dr. Ramon Buenaver’s care.
"Her child got sick and so she called, and they gave her the appointment the next day," Mota said. "With your own doctor it can take two or three weeks to get in, and by that time you just say, ‘Well, the kids are better now.’"
The clinic provides the kind of service Tribune readers can support by donating to the newspaper’s Our Children Matter holiday campaign. Funds will be distributed via grants to organizations that serve East Valley children. In 2003, the first year of the program, the Tribune raised more than $20,000.
CARE’s clinic at 460 S. Bellview St. draws children from as far away as Glendale and Peoria, but the majority are from Mesa and other East Valley communities. The $20 per-visit fee is waived in cases of financial hardship or if Buenaver sees the child for a follow-up within the next couple of weeks.
Buenaver, a pediatric cardiologist, opened the clinic as a volunteer three years ago and takes a small salary for working three full days a week.
CARE Partnership, which oversees several programs that serve Mesa’s poorest neighborhoods, is trying to raise $300,000 to expand the clinic and allow Buenaver and a staff of volunteers and parttimers to see children five days a week.
Buenaver and CARE also work with the pediatric health community and local hospitals to provide help when children need affordable, advance care. Such was the case when the Barrow Neurological Institute removed a teenage girl’s brain tumor free of charge.
Cindy Salvucci, a hospital social worker who volunteers with the pediatric clinic, said children’s parents rarely ask for the fee waiver, but frequently pick up a food box provided through the CARE Partnership.
"Most of our families are working, but they’re just barely getting by after they make rent and utility payments," she said.
Learn more: For information about or to volunteer at the CARE Partnership’s pediatric clinic or its other programs, call (480) 962-5197. Donations can be mailed to CARE Partnership, 460 S. Bellview St., Mesa, AZ, 85204.