When Pediatrician Dr. Efrain Flores recently returned to the Will County CHC (Community Health Center) staff, Chief Executive Officer Mary Maragos knew it was a big step forward for two reasons. First, a very well-liked doctor who had been gone for seven years had returned. And second, Flores’ return had further strengthened the CHC’s lineup of bilingual doctors.
“Dr. Flores left in 2012, and this has been a great reunion,” said Maragos. “People are surprised to see him, and he is meeting younger siblings of children that he took care of when he was here before.”
Dr Flores says he is certainly enjoying his return, and is happy to be offering his Spanish speaking skills as a CHC doctor. “I am proud to belong to the Hispanic community and give medical service in Spanish to our community.”
The Will County CHC now has six Spanish speaking medical providers. In addition to Dr. Flores; they include Dr. Dan Gutierrez (Internal Medicine Physician), Marisa Ruiz (Family Nurse Practitioner), and three Obstetrician/Gynecologists: Dr. Cynthia Vera, Dr. Tracy Vera, and Dr. Veronica Arauz. (Dr. Cynthia Vera and Dr. Arauz also serve Will County residents by delivering babies at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.)
The team of bilingual medical providers at the Will County Community Health Center. Top (L to R): Dr. Tracy Vera. Family Nurse Practitioner Marisa Ruiz, and Dr. Cynthia Vera. Bottom (L to R): Dr. Veronica Arauz, Dr. Efrain Flores, and Dr. Dan Gutierrez.
“For each of these doctors, Spanish is their native language,” Maragos explained. “So Spanish speaking patients feel very comfortable communicating with them, especially when they are not feeling well. This is very important because about 40 percent of our patients are of Hispanic/Latino decent. And half of them, meaning one-fifth of our clientele, speak only Spanish. Some are new to this country, and some are senior patients who still favor Spanish when communicating with doctors.”
Maragos also points out that there are many others who provide assistance to Spanish speaking patients at the Will County CHC. “We have Spanish speaking nurses, medical assistants, dental assistants, and six full-time interpreters. And it’s also very important to note that we have Affordable Care Act/Marketplace insurance counselors who speak Spanish.”
As we head into 2020, and families are often looking to make New Year’s Resolutions about their health care, Maragos also wanted to remind Will County residents about the CHC’s other services. “For example, we also have Dental and Behavioral Health care, plus an on-site lab, and a Basinger’s Pharmacy that provides discounted prescriptions. We offer Medicaid and Medicare coverage, private insurance, and coverage for the uninsured where we charge for services on a sliding fee scale. Free Optometry Services are available, including examinations and eyeglasses. All patient information is kept confidential. We do not ask patients about their immigration status.”
To make an appointment at the Will County Community Health Center, call 815-727-8670.
For more information about CHC programs and other Will County Health Department services, go to http://willcountyhealth.org/chc/.