COMMENTARY: Bringing affordable, quality health care to the 28th district


As we celebrate National Health Center Week from Aug. 12 to 18, I’d like to bring special awareness to these health facilities that offer so much for constituents in my district.

I have been a longtime supporter of Community Health Centers since my days as a member of the Texas Legislature and I will continue doing the same in Congress for as long as I can. The phrase “access to health care” means being able to get prompt, affordable, quality health care and medical treatment when families need it most. And this is exactly what I have fought for during my almost three decades in public service.

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) provide high-quality, affordable primary care and preventive services to any patient, regardless of insurance status or income. The 28th Congressional District of Texas is considered rural and, for this reason, I continue to advocate for these health centers because I know first-hand that my constituents depend on them for their health needs.

Nuestra Clinica del Valle Inc. (NCDV) in San Juan is part of a network of 460 health centers in Texas. Across the nation, more than 27 million Americans benefit from community health centers. The doctors, nurses and staff who work at these health centers are constantly working with patients who may be suffering from serious conditions. Many of these patients, if left unchecked, may face serious health-related conditions that can be detrimental to their well-being.

The clinic is a federally qualified health center that has served families of Hidalgo and Starr counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the past 47 years. Nuestra Clinica del Valle provides comprehensive affordable preventive and primary care services to all residents regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Lucy Torres, CEO of Nuestra Clinica del Valle, said, “Families all along the Rio Grande Valley depend on our clinic and the medical services we offer for their health care needs. Nuestra Clinica del Valle offers a wide-range of services from pediatrics to nutrition. We want to ensure our community has the resources they need to remain healthy.” She added, “We are very thankful to Congressman Cuellar for being a champion and strong supporter of accessible healthcare and Community Health Centers across the 28th district.

Nuestra Clinica’s clinicians and staff are dedicated and on the frontlines dealing with patients who have chronic conditions and other complex problems. Every year, during National Health Center Week, Nuestra Clinica del Valle has a health event for the community. This year’s theme — “Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes” recognizes the important efforts Community Health Centers around the nation do daily to maintain the community healthy. Nuestra Clinica will be offering multiple screenings and promoting prevention on Saturday, Aug. 18, at the San Juan location.

The prevalence of diabetes throughout South Texas has continued to be a major medical issue for the community and in particular for the patients of NCDV. Nuestra Clinica del Valle’s integrated health model consists of a health care team which includes multiple disciplines who work collaboratively providing a holistic approach that encompasses medical and behavioral health techniques which encourages a better quality of life.

This team is just one example of how community health centers provide high-quality health care. I have a lot of community health centers throughout my district, and if it weren’t for them, thousands of people would not have access to health care. During National Health Center Week, I invite you to learn more about health centers by visiting a nearby center like Atascosa Health Center Inc. (Pleasanton); CentroMed (San Antonio); Gateway Community Health Center Inc. (Laredo); Nuestra Clinica del Valle (San Juan); or South Texas Rural Health Services Inc. (Cotulla).

Celebrate our health centers, home of America’s health care heroes. Talk with the clinicians and staff on hand and find out why health centers are a great prescription for our nation’s health.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He writes for The Monitor’s Board of Contributors.