Clinica Romero Named after the martyred Salvadoran archbishop and dedicated to the people that he also served, Clinica Romero is a free clinic offering no-questions-asked, pay-whatever-you-can medical and dental services and prescriptions to everyone who comes to its door. The clean and bright facility is located in the basement of the Royal University of America’s Oriental Medical Center, Straightforward in its operation, Clinica Romero originally offered all its medical services through volunteer physicians, although access to some grant money recently has made it possible to hire a half-time physician, and Margaret Martinez is working on a creative plan to pay part of the salary of a supervisor from the University of Southern California Medical School, who would work on the clinic’s site to oversee a cadre of interns and medical residents who’d help provide medical services there. Meanwhile, however, it efficiently delivers medical services six days a week (including two evening sessions) with a group of about 15 local physicians who volunteer their services on a rotating basis. In a series of related programs driven by project-specific funding, Clinica Romero also provides health education (particularly AIDS/HIV), and an alcohol and drug-prevention program that includes a community-organizing component aimed at ensuring that the neighborhood’s 456 (!) liquor stores and bars don’t flout the laws regarding loitering and sales to minors. With a staff of 23 and a $1 million annual budget, Clinica Romero faces a rising tide of patients, with the numbers served increasing from 3,500 three years ago to an expected 11,000 this year.
With welfare “reform” denying Medicaid to many legal immigrants, these numbers aren’t likely to decrease.