Clinica Romero


     Named after the martyred Salvadoran archbishop and dedicated to the people that
he also served, Clinica Romero is a free clinic offering no-questions-asked,
pay-whatever-you-can medical and dental services and prescriptions to everyone
who comes to its door. The clean and bright facility is located in the basement
of the Royal University of America's Oriental Medical Center, Straightforward in
its operation, Clinica Romero originally offered all its medical services
through volunteer physicians, although access to some grant money recently has
made it possible to hire a half-time physician, and Margaret Martinez is working
on a creative plan to pay part of the salary of a supervisor from the University
of Southern California Medical School, who would work on the clinic's site to
oversee a cadre of interns and medical residents who'd help provide medical
services there. Meanwhile, however, it efficiently delivers medical services six
days a week (including two evening sessions) with a group of about 15 local
physicians who volunteer their services on a rotating basis. In a series of
related programs driven by project-specific funding, Clinica Romero also
provides health education (particularly AIDS/HIV), and an alcohol and
drug-prevention program that includes a community-organizing component aimed at
ensuring that the neighborhood's 456 (!) liquor stores and bars don't flout the
laws regarding loitering and sales to minors. With a staff of 23 and a $1
million annual budget, Clinica Romero faces a rising tide of patients, with the
numbers served increasing from 3,500 three years ago to an expected 11,000 this
year. With welfare "reform" denying Medicaid to many legal immigrants,
these numbers aren't likely to decrease.