Almanac

Community - December 22, 2010

Holiday Fund: Health center cares for the underserved

Submitted by Kathleen Alexander, director of communications, Ravenswood Family Health Center.

Maria Roci is a single parent of three children, ages 7, 9 and 15. They've been without a home of their own for the past year, but thanks to a supportive sister who has four children of her own, Maria and her kids have a safe haven in an apartment in Menlo Park.

When Maria first came to the clinic, she was dealing with depression and hypertension and complained of headaches and dizziness. "I was stressed out and the headaches were getting more intense," she said.

Prior to her becoming a patient at Belle Haven Clinic, it had been determined that Maria had a tumor on the pituitary gland that was playing havoc with her endocrine system.

"No one had followed up to be sure she received the treatment she needed, and her symptoms were getting increasingly more severe," said her primary care provider, nurse practitioner Maia Dehlinger. "So I set up a referral for her to a neurosurgeon and endocrinologist."

Subsequently, Maria underwent surgery and her condition improved significantly. She is doing much better and is quick to give credit to her primary care provider. "She knows my history and always makes time to see me to be sure I receive follow up care."

Maia Dehlinger is a nurse practitioner who like other clinicians at Ravenswood Family Health Center (RFHC) decided to invest her skills in caring for the underserved. On the wall above her desk at Belle Haven Clinic is a small sign: "To leave the world a better place, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded."

Watching the Belle Haven staff in full swing, one realizes how much coordination goes on behind the scenes to ensure patients have access to the full array of services available at RFHC, including prenatal, chronic disease case management, dental care in RFHC's new state-of-the-art dental clinic, and behavioral health and social services.

Ravenswood Family Health Center operates two medical sites, a mobile clinic and a dental clinic, providing comprehensive care to 10,000 patients a year of all ages, ensuring that low-income families and uninsured residents in southeast San Mateo County have access to a medical home.

With its capacity for efficient, cost-effective primary and preventive care, RFHC like other community health centers is well positioned to meet the rising need for affordable care with health care reform.

Go to ravenswoodfhc.org for more information about Ravenswood Family Health Center and to learn about volunteer opportunities. Donations to the Holiday Fund benefit the Ravenswood Family Health Center and nine other community-service organizations.

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