Thirteen years ago, Casa de Salud was created as a space for fair-priced, affordable, integrative health care, with a goal to provide dignity-based care and same day medical services including evenings and weekends. We are proud to be true to our mission and growing stronger.
In July 2004, our clinic was established by health professionals from the medical system, promotoras with the Kalpulli Izkalli organization, and community volunteers. We shared the vision of creating a clinic that offered affordable, high quality, holistic health services to anyone in need. Maintaining the dignity of both the patient and the clinician were essential aspects of our shared vision. We initially named our clinic Topahkal, (“house of medicine” in the Aztec language) by the suggestion of a founding member. The medical clinic began in a small, two bedroom casita on Ann Street, located in the heart of the South Valley of Albuquerque. We offered límpias, reiki, massage, herbs, and medical consultation. Our clinic grew by word of mouth, particularly in the Mexican American community. Many patients and friends helped us remodel the house and turn it into a disability-accessible clinic.
In 2005, we received our first service contract from the NM Dept
of Health to provide a full spectrum harm reduction services to
opiate/heroin addicted individuals. We also received a one time
Con Alma Foundation grant to help us initiate our substance
abuse treatment and recovery program. We have now become
one of the most accessible medical clinics for opiate addiction
treatment with buprenorphine (suboxone) medication services,
and we offer a full spectrum integrative care, including
acupuncture, herbs, reiki and massage.
Also in 2005, we initiated a fair-priced ultrasound service with
the support of our community. The $25,000.00 machine was
purchased with funds raised by grants and private donations,
and it continues to be used today to provide high-tech imaging
services at low-tech prices.
In December of 2006, the clinic moved to its current location at 1608 Isleta Blvd SW, beginning a wonderful partnership with the building’s owner, the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation (RGCDC), a local nonprofit organization. The move came after we had begun to outgrew our small casita, both in numbers of patients as well as the increasing complexity of the disease treated.
With only one month to relocate, and in the middle of an epic winter snow storm, we received amazing support from our patients and friends. They helped us to renovate the new building to ensure that the quality and feel of our working environment matched the care we give to patients; volunteers laid tile, painted, dug ditches, planted and planned. The design of the current clinic is deliberate, in particular the use of bright colors instead of sterile whites, the creation of the altar room as a sacred space for healing and traditional medicine, and especially the lack of a front desk. The latter was done intentionally in order to avoid the intimidation and separation that having a front desk can cause to uninsured patients who are often filtered away in this space. Instead of this, we developed the position of Greeter, a person who welcomes patients regardless of their income or insurance. This first impression sets the context for trust and dignity.
As the project grew and evolved, some of the founding members separated from the clinic in order to focus their energies on the priorities of their own organization. The name Topahkal was kept by the Kalpulli Izkalli and we went through a name change. Staff and clinicians brainstormed many options and then asked our patients to vote. They selected Casa de Salud Family Medical Office.
In 2007, we received our first service contract from Bernalillo County which allowed us to provide health literacy services to our patients. We also began providing women’s health services through the Breast Cancer and Cervical Screening Program (BCC), which offers qualifying women free breast exams, mammograms and paps smears.
In 2008, we welcomed a full time Doctor of Oriental Medicine, as well as a reiki master and massage therapists. We implemented a customized electronic medical record and happily left paper charts behind. Our patient base
continued to grow: we served approximately 8,000 patient visits.
In 2009, we completed our application for 501-c-3 status and became an official non-profit organization known as Justice, Access, Support, and Solutions for Health (JAZZ for Health).
Jazz for Health was a recipient of a three year Pathways grant which funds community health workers who assist highly impacted patients in navigating the complexity of the health care and social service systems. A year later, in 2010, our navigators saved patients over $700,000.00 in medical debt.
We added one full time physicians to our staff and served over 9,000 patient visits.
In 2010, Casa de Salud was recognized when one of its founders, Dr Andru Ziwasimon, was nominated and selected as one of ten individuals nationwide to receive the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader award. Funds from this award were applied to two projects, improving our student apprentice program and expanding our medical debt reduction services.
We added one full time physicians to our staff and served over 11,000 patient visits.
In 2011, the Association for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal agency, highlighted Casa de Salud’s work in its Healthcare Innovations Exchange, as an example of a community clinic that is working to improve quality and reduce disparities.
The WK Kellogg Foundation also recognized the South Valley Healthy Community Collaborative, and funded each of the five organizations involved in it, including Casa de Salud. Funds from this award are being applied to strengthening the collaborative as well as developing leadership and programs at Casa de Salud.
In addition, Casa de Salud is expanding its current building, adding several natural therapy treatment rooms and a large classroom, as well as enlarging the waiting room area. This is happening thanks to funding from the McCune Charitable Foundation and private donors, and assistance from our partner and landlord the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation.
· We provided over 13,000 patient visits in primary care, acute care, acupuncture, reiki, massage, women’s health, at an average “fair price” cost of $40/visit, and donated over $50,000 in charity care services.
· We saved our patients over a million dollars in medical debt from hospital and emergency room bills by helping them navigate the hospital and collections systems.
· We trained over 30 health apprentices — college students and volunteers who dedicate time with us, learn medical-assistant skills, serve the community, and prepare to become the future healthcare workforce leaders of New Mexico!
· We provided comprehensive and effective holistic treatment services for drug addiction.
We kept demonstrating that healthcare does not have to be expensive and
that it can still be high quality and hassle-free. With this success, we outgrew
our building and decided to expanded it. Thanks to the generous support of
the McCune Charitable Foundation, we had $175,000 committed towards
the expansion effort. Our goal is to raise an additional $125,000 from our
community of patients and supporters.
Casa de Salud’s building expansion is an excellent opportunity for you to
dedicate a tax-deductible contribution to your local non-profit medical clinic.
2015-2017 (to come)
2018 -- see our comprehensive year in review and support us at www.gofundme.com/casadesalud!