Last spring, a bright-eyed toddler girl and her mother attending a health fair approached a table filled with red noses. It was Su Clinica Familiar’s table, staffed by Abigail ‘Abi’ Mares, a dental outreach worker from this community health center and UnidosUS Affiliate in Harlingen, Texas. It was this encounter that sparked the beginning of establishing a medical and dental home—and a consistent source of health care—for Genesis and her mother Rosa Diaz. Their above and beyond participation in this program, and their overall strong commitment to UnidosUS’s work, earned them the 2019 Texas Affiliate of the Year award.
And it was all made possible thanks to the Red Nose Day Fund support of UnidosUS’s Healthy and Ready for the Future (HRF) program.
Supported by Red Nose Day since 2016, HRF provides oral and behavioral health care services for Latino children, especially from migrant and seasonal farmworker families, across rural America.
Rosa told Abi that she was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. She did not make enough money to afford private insurance and the convenience store where she worked did not offer health coverage. Her car wasn’t always reliable and, although Genesis was covered by Medicaid, it was hard to take time off from work to make an appointment to renew her coverage. Scheduling Genesis’s doctor visits on her days off, which often came with little notice by her employer, was a challenge. Abi recognized that Rosa was experiencing what many young single moms face: not having the time and resources to get everything they need done.
Su Clinica’s invaluable help
She scheduled a home visit with Rosa, meeting with her on a day and time that was convenient for her, where they talked about Genesis’s and her own needs. Genesis was soon set up with a dental appointment at Su Clinica’s dental clinic and during the visit was also seen in the pediatric clinic due to congestion she was experiencing. Rosa was also seen in Su Clinica’s women’s health department, something she’d been putting off for a while.
Trained staff provided application assistance to Rosa, helping her renew Genesis’s Medicaid and apply for other social services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rosa learned that Su Clinica’s pediatric clinic has walk-in appointments, evening and weekend hours so that she can bring Genesis whenever she begins getting sick, no longer having to schedule around her work shifts.
“Genesis is a beautiful little girl, who is shy at first but quick to learn. Her mother now brings her for regular scheduled visits and, at almost two years old, she is on her way to establishing good oral health habits that will last her a lifetime. Because her dentist at Su Clinica makes the visit fun, she is no longer shy or scared to get her dental exams. She looks forward to getting stickers and her own toothbrush with each dental visit,” said Abi.
Rosa also praised Su Clinica’s efforts. “Without Su Clinica promoting their dental program at last year’s Red Nose Day [health fair] event I would not have found out about all of the services the clinic has to offer. Genesis now has a medical home and dental home at the same building. I do not have to travel to different places. All her information is at one place, and I can even get her medicine there. Having the help the clinic has given us in registering and getting our appointments, and in getting help when I need to renew her Medicaid, is huge.”