Free Healthcare in the Mission

Clinica Martín-Baro was opened in 2007, providing primary care services in Calle 24. Photo by Kyla Menconi / SF Foghorn

An estimated three million Californians are at risk of losing their health insurance as residents will have their Medi-Cal eligibility reconsidered in the coming months, according to ABC7. As of June, approximately 225,000 Medi-Cal recipients have already lost their coverage after reconsideration, according to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). The advocacy group Latino Coalition for a Healthy California found that of those who have been disenrolled from Medi-Cal during the reconsideration process, 53% identify as Latine, the most of any other racial or ethnic population. 

According to California Health and Human Services, Medi-Cal reviews member eligibility once a year to see whether the applicant’s property and assets exceed the eligibility limit, which was paused during the COVID-19 public health emergency. On May 11, the process resumed. On Aug. 16, CBS reported that 150,000 people across the Bay Area will have their Medi-Cal eligibility reconsidered.

Latine sophomore nursing major Alejandro Marquez is one of these Medi-Cal recipients. He said, “I got something in the mail yesterday that it’s going to be reconsidered… [Medi-Cal] helps people access healthcare.” 

Clinica Martín-Baró, a free healthcare clinic in the Mission District, is an alternative resource that those who have lost their insurance can use. The clinic’s mission is “to promote wellness and address the health care needs of the underserved and economically disadvantaged Spanish-speaking community of the Mission District,” according to their website. All of the clinic’s services, including primary care, specialist referrals, and medication, are free. 

The clinic’s multiple partnerships, including San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) department of Latina/Latino Studies and members of University of California, San Francisco Health (UCSF), fund its efforts. 

UCSF and SFSU students run the clinic. SFSU alumni Dr. Caro Monico and Dr. Zoel Quinonez opened the clinic in 2007 during their time at UCSF.

Latine sophomore nursing major Dyrin Chavez Hernandez said, “I have heard of Clinica Martín-Baró here in SF. I love the work that they are doing for our Latine community in the Mission, and I hope to be able to volunteer for them in any way I can. Start-ups like these are extremely important to our communities.” 

Milagros Hernandez, who has been an intern at Clinica Martín-Baró since 2018, said, “Today, a patient that I hadn’t seen in a while recognized my name and gave me the biggest hug. They always leave saying thank you so many times.”

As a Latine person, Hernandez said, “When I go on a health visit, I feel unseen. I used to have to translate through my parents, so I understand the cultural barrier when people come into Clinica Martín-Baró.” 

Representation for Latine people is important to Marquez. “Having more and more Latino representation in the medical industry is really cool to see, because it determined that Latino people are more than capable of achieving success in the medical industry.” 

The clinic’s name comes from Ignacio Martín-Baró, a Jesuit priest and scholar who fought for social justice. USF has its own program dedicated to the work of Martín-Baró — the Martín-Baró Scholar program, in which first-year students work to fight food insecurity by donating food to community organizations like the Richmond Neighborhood Center and the USF Food Pantry.

USF nursing students also engage with various Bay Area community organizations. These include the Academic-Practice Partnership with Kaiser Permanente, Engage San Francisco and Veteran Affairs Nursing Partnership. 

For Latine sophomore nursing major Sima Sadaghini, partnerships between healthcare and the Latine community are “vital and needed.” 

Clinica Martín-Baró is open Saturdays for free healthcare services to community members. The clinic also has a resource list with information about COVID, housing and reproductive healthcare in the broader Bay Area. 

Megan Robertson, Jordan DelFiugo, Oliver River Satalich and Niki Sedaghat contributed to the reporting of this story.

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