June 4, 2021

Nonprofit Stories: Clinica Medicos

Since immigrating to the United States from Guatemala, Enrique has worked more than 70 hours a week to provide for his wife and four children. His wife works too, but Enrique is the main breadwinner, putting in long hours at a mechanic shop and as a dishwasher.

So his health is his most important asset, says Enrique. When he is sick, he goes to work anyway; and has not been to the doctor in a decade. Until last year, when he had an ear infection so severe that he could not open his mouth or swallow. After he missed three days of work and lost his job, Enrique’s wife told him about Clinica Medicos, a clinic off Rossville Boulevard, in a heavily Latino populated area of Chattanooga. Within a week, his infection was gone.

Bilingual doctors are serving our Latino neighbors who don’t have health insurance.

Clínica Médicos is a mission-style medical clinic, founded by Dr. Kelly Arnold to bring quality affordable healthcare to uninsured Latinos in our community.

“When I look at the patients here,” says Dr. Arnold, “it’s not just about looking at them as Latino, or underserved. These are Chattanoogans. These children that I see as patients are going to one day work with my children. This is the future of Chattanooga.”

At a key moment in its founding, the Clinic was supported by the Fund for Chattanooga to purchase critical diagnostic, disease management and life saving equipment.

The Clinic has more than 10,000 office visits annually, 90% of which were with patients who are uninsured or underinsured. Where average ER visits for acute, chronic, and urgent medical management range from $1,300 to $7,000, the same services at Clinica Medicos cost patients, on average, $70 to $200.

The Clinic reduces the cost of an average emergency visit from $4,000 to $135.

Dr. Arnold makes prenatal care a priority at the clinic, and the doctors have delivered more than 350 babies on site — none of which were admitted to local NICUs for inadequate prenatal care.

“We have women who come here 30 weeks pregnant, who have never seen a doctor,” says Dr. Arnold. “When we opened the clinic, I wanted to bring logical solutions at an affordable price, and always with empathy and compassion. I hope the message is loud and clear to any patient, of any race, who walks in through our doors. Here, we will take care of you. Here, you are safe.”