December 12, 2022

I spent several years working as a family medicine physician in Los Angeles. Many of my patients were Spanish-speaking and low-income individuals, a large portion of whom suffered from obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. I found that simply advising patients to “eat a healthy diet and exercise” did not lead to improved health measures. By embracing a holistic approach, I was able to find the root cause of my patients’ health problems. Many of my patients lived in neighborhoods without a nearby grocery store to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and did not understand how to read nutrition labels. Over a series of clinic appointments, I would work closely with my patients to find ways to address barriers to healthy eating and exercise. My clinical experiences inspired me to go beyond the clinic walls to find ways to address the social determinants of health that were contributing to my patients’ poor health outcomes.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, I made the decision to move to my hometown area in Central California. As a public health trained physician, I wanted to give back to the region where I was raised and assist with local programs aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities. I began working with the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH) and helped coordinate the department’s efforts to protect farmworkers against COVID-19 by making COVID-19 tests and vaccines more accessible in the rural areas of the county. As the daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers, I know firsthand the challenges that many farmworkers face when accessing health care. My parents were monolingual Spanish speakers and due to their language barrier, they had...

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