First generation immigrants face many challenges and often they put their health at risk because they work long hours in order provide for their families. Many times they skip visiting the doctor, even when they feel sick because they worry about the high cost of healthcare. This puts them at risk for developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. The Westminster Free Clinic Corazones Sanos Para Mi Familia (Healthy Hearts For My Family) program goes the extra mile to make sure patients in Thousand Oaks, CA receive the medical care that they need, regardless of their immigration status. They provide them with free medical care, educational materials, and so much more with the help of many volunteers, many who are just teenagers.
“Everyone that works here understands the challenges because to be bilingual is not enough, you have to look for a team that really has a heart for the challenges that first-generation immigrants have,” says Lisa Safaeinili, Executive Director of the Westminster Free Clinic. The clinic serves predominantly Latino low-income uninsured working people that work multiple jobs and still aren’t able to afford health insurance. “Everything we do at the clinic is free of charge and that is intentional because we want to make sure that people don’t put off healthcare,” explains the director.
The top health issues that affect the people that visit their clinic are cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “If you don’t address these issues early, you can lose your vision, or end up with a stroke or damage to your kidneys and many other serious issues that can put you out of work,” she says.
The clinic provides free medical care, mental health services, health advocacy, wellness services and much more. Everything they offer is in Spanish and it is culturally sensitive to the needs of the community. Ninety percent of the staff is comprised of volunteers and the best part is their teen healthcare internship.