Clinic for needy Hispanics booming - East Valley Tribune: News

Clinic for needy Hispanics booming

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Posted: Saturday, November 29, 2003 2:52 am | Updated: 2:11 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

A Hispanic-oriented community health clinic for the poor and uninsured is ready to expand just one year after moving to Mesa.

More than 3,200 patients since January have checked into Clinica Adelante, a 3,000-square-foot office tucked into the corner of a strip mall at Alma School and Guadalupe roads. More than 60 percent of the patients lack health insurance; many are newly arrived immigrants to the United States.

Advocates say the clinic and similar facilities in the Valley provide an invaluable service, easing the burden of overcrowded hospital emergency rooms and treating people at low cost. All patients pay a minimum $20 fee per visit to see one of the four physicians on staff, and that price could include an MRI or CAT scan.

Patients lacking health insurance often qualify for discounted services depending on their income, which is verified by checking paycheck stubs, said Linda Gorey, Clinica Adelante’s CEO.

"We’re just trying to get all the people in that need to see us," Gorey said.

The nonprofit company has five other clinics in Phoenix and the West Valley. "We’re an important part of the safety net here in the county."

The clinic’s advertising has been mostly word of mouth. Now that it is well-established, Gorey said she is eager for the East Valley to learn more about the clinic and its mission. Last week she invited Mesa leaders to see how the clinic benefits the community.

"It’s another one of the nonprofits that we are kind of blessed with in Mesa," Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh said. "I think it’s going to be a good, healthy asset."

The first Clinica Adelante opened in Surprise in 1979 to aid migrant workers from Valley farms. In the early 1990s, the company acquired other locations and expanded its scope to serve any resident who wished to come in. The Queen Creek clinic, opened in 1992, lost its lease last year due to a school expansion and relocated to Mesa.

The drive to the clinic is now much longer for Chandler Heights resident Consuelo Villalpando, 41, but she keeps coming. Villalpando, in the waiting room on Tuesday, said she has diabetes and likes the care she gets during her threemonth checkups. The bilingual staff members also make her husband, who primarily speaks Spanish, feel more comfortable.

"My whole family comes," she said. "They’re very polite. Any complaint I have, they take care of right away."

Villalpando said she is enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s health plan for low-income residents, so her visits to Clinica Adelante are by choice, not necessity.

The same is not true for Mesa resident Leonor Hernandez, 30, an immigrant originally from Veracruz, Mexico, who has no health insurance. She is eight months pregnant with her second child.

Hernandez said she had no idea where else to find such inexpensive prenatal care. The clinic takes care of all prenatal vitamins, medications and checkups throughout a pregnancy for a one-time fee of $300, said office manager Hilda Muñiz.

Similar deals also can be found at two low-cost clinics operated by the Maricopa County health system in Mesa and Chandler. Despite the availability of those facilities, business has been so brisk at Clinica Adelante that the company employed a real estate agent recently to look for a new 9,000-square-foot space in Mesa to move into, Gorey said.

Depending on the success of a federal grant being sought for the expansion, the new clinic may add two or three more physicians, she said. The clinic also may begin offering dental care in 2005, she said.

Federal funds of about $2.5 million a year pay the bulk of subsidies for the discounted services provided by the six Clinica Adelante facilities. State taxpayers chipped in about $750,000 this year and the United Way donated $81,000, Gorey said. Patient payments made up the rest of the network’s $10 million annual budget, she said.

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