New Mexico, United States

Nine years ago, Casa de Salud was created as a space for fair-priced, affordable, integrative health care, with a goal to provide dignity-based care and same day medical services including evenings and weekends. The dedicated team of the clinic have big dreams and ambitious plans to double the square footage of the building over the coming months. The celebratory groundbreaking ceremony was held on the 16th May 2012.

In 2011, Casa de Salud provided over 13,000 patient visits in primary care, acute care, acupuncture, reiki, massage, women’s health, at an average “fair price” cost of $40/visit, and donated over $50,000 in charity care services.  These services saved patients over a million dollars in medical debt from hospital and emergency room bills by helping them navigate the hospital and collections systems.

Casa de Salud also pride itself on being a center where college students and volunteers can train with 30 health apprentices to learn medical-assistant skills, serve the community, and prepare to become the future healthcare workforce leaders of New Mexico.

Innovative programs such as the harm reduction and needle exchange program and laser tattoo removal are also giving people a chance to start fresh and regain control over their lives.  The commitment of the staff and volunteers in the center is inspiring.

St. Anthony’s Alliance has provided funding to the clinic since 2008. We are delighted to announce that a further commitment of $25,000 over the next 5 years towards the building program has been agreed by the Board of St. Anthony’s Alliance.

To find out more visit the Casa de Salud website. http://www.casadesaludnm.org/

Update on Casa de Salud: Tiny Clinic Expands to Make a Greater Difference in Albuquerque’s South Valley

On a typical morning, more than a dozen patients are sitting quietly in the waiting room of Casa de Salud, a low-cost, walk-in clinic that serves the residents of the South Valley, one of the poorest neighborhoods of Albuquerque.

Patients start lining up well before the 9 a.m. opening to be seen by one of three family practice physicians for diabetes checkups, high blood pressure, draining abscesses, drug abuse treatment and family planning. These days, they must walk through construction fencing, past workmen and carpenters to reach the clinic, as Casa de Salud is undergoing an expansion, which will double the clinic’s size.

On the day we visited Casa de Salud, three patients and three volunteers are crammed into a makeshift intake room the size of an apartment kitchen to have vital signs monitored. The clinic’s lab was in a narrow hallway. Patients and doctors walked one at a time through the narrow space between exam rooms.

“We see a lot of patients every day. This is real life and real healthcare,” explained Tomas Valerio, who came to the South Valley last year ago from Taos, NM. He started as volunteering six hours a week at Casa de Salud and applied to the University of New Mexico School of Medicine on the strength of his experience in this hands-on approach to healing. He begins medical school in June 2013.

Tomas Valerio

Dr. Andru Ziwasimon-Zeller and Lorraine Cordova started Casa de Salud nine years ago. Ziwasimon-Zeller came from Florida to complete his residency in family medicine at UNM and decided to start his practice in the South Valley, where residents had limited access to low-cost healthcare. He has a 25-year lease on the building at 1600 Isleta Blvd. through the Rio Grande Community Development Corp., which supports economic development in the South Valley.

Dr. Andru Ziwasimon-Zeller

St. Anthony’s Alliance learned of Casa de Salud through Elyce Tryon Sheehan, who also volunteered at the clinic before going into medical school. In 2012, St. Anthony’s joined the McCune Charitable Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in supporting Casa de Salud’s mission. St. Anthony’s pledged $25,000 over five years to support the clinic’s much-needed expansion, which doubles the size of the 3,000 square-foot facility to 6,000 square feet. When construction is complete in summer of 2013, the clinic will feature individual intake rooms, 12 exam rooms, a diabetes education classroom, an exam room for a pediatric clinician and rooms for acupuncture and massage therapy. An important aspect of the clinic is a needle exchange program funded by the state to reduce the incidence of Hepatitis C and HIV among intravenous drug users. There is also a program to treat narcotics addictions. The clinic leases space to Lazarus Tattoo Removal, run by Dawn Maestas, for those who want to erase unsightly tattoos or signs of past gang affiliations.

Both the existing clinic and the new addition feature skylights, which provide soothing natural light, reduce electrical expenses and support a thriving garden of plants. The new addition designed by Modulus Design, a design/build firm in Albuquerque, features a warm palate in butter, pumpkin and deep blue hues, a courtyard garden paved with bricks and break room and private shower for the 57 volunteers, apprentices, staff and work-study students who are the heart and soul of Casa de Salud.

(Pave the courtyard and support Casa de Salud by buying bricks. Small bricks are $200; medium bricks are $500 and large bricks are $2,000.)

In July, the clinic will mark the opening of the expanded space with a community celebration. In addition to Dr. Ziwasimon-Zeller, Dr. Jesse Barnes, Dr. Camila Romero, both family practice physicians, and Jen Robinson, a women’s health specialist, provide patient care. Each of the physicians sees at least 15 to 20 patients a day, staying late if there are still people in the waiting room. Acupuncture services are provided to relieve chronic pain and patients can also get stress relief through massage therapy.

“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” said Valerio, who envisions one day setting up a similar clinic in Taos after he completes medical training. “I love to be here. These are the best hours of the week for me to be here when I am volunteering,” he said.

 

To contact, donate to Casa de Salud, or to buy a brick visit the website at www.casadesaludnm.org or call the clinic between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. MDT at (505) 907-8311