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Vehicle will enable provider of health care to reach migrant workers and school children in addition to its network of 18 clinics in Washington and Yamhill counties.

PMG PHOTO BY PETER WONG - Serena Cruz, director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, speaks at a ceremony for the new $385,000 mobile clinic Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Beaverton City Hall/The Round. It replaces a 20-year-old clinic that was totaled in a 2018 crash.A larger vehicle will enable Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Clinic to provide better service to migrant workers and school children in the two counties it serves.

The new mobile clinic made its debut Tuesday, Aug. 6, in a ceremony at The Round/Beaverton City Hall during National Health Center Week. It also was scheduled for a stop Friday, Aug. 9, in Cornelius.

"It's a full medical and dental clinic on wheels," said Kasi Woidyla of Virginia Garcia. "We treat a lot of different ailments and we do it right here."

The mobile clinic joins a network of 11 clinics, plus seven school-based clinics, that Virginia Garcia operates in Washington and Yamhill counties.

The mobile clinic replaces one that was 20 years old — and was already used when Virginia Garcia acquired it — after it was totaled in a 2018 crash. The Winnebago cost $385,000 and was paid for by corporate, foundation and individual donors.

The new vehicle contains two operatories — rooms equipped with chairs that can be used for medical exams and dental work — instead of one. Both have soundproof doors, unlike the single room in the old clinic. The generator will be quiet enough so that doctors can hear patients' heartbeats inside.

The new vehicle also has a check-in and waiting area for patients. In the old vehicle, the driver's seat was used for check-ins — and patients sat outside.

Also in the new vehicle — which is air conditioned — are a toilet, an x-ray machine, storage for medications and a refrigerator for specimens.

Virginia Garcia doctors and staff see an estimated 700 to 1,000 migrant workers during three summer months, and thousands of school children the rest of the year.

Gil Muñoz, Virginia Garcia's chief executive since 2001, said the Winnebago is the latest in the evolution of mobile clinics, which started with a one-room trailer — known as the "burro" — hitched to a pickup truck.

"When Virginia Garcia goes out to (migrant) camps, we generally do not go out alone," Muñoz said. "We bring along a whole host of other community organizations that come in to provide other critically needed support services to the populations that are hardest to reach."

Value of visits

Serena Cruz, director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation — the fundraising arm of the clinic — read a testimonial from staff physician Eva Galvez about the value of the mobile clinic.

"Apart from the valuable health services we provide, we are sending a message to this vulnerable part of our community that we see them as valuable — and we are moved to action on their behalf," Galvez wrote.

Galvez described a 22-year-old woman, Lupe, a migrant worker who accompanies her migrant family, and who receives her only medical care from annual visits of the mobile clinic. For the first time in three years, Galvez wrote, Lupe complained of severe abdominal pain she feared might be cancer.

As the oldest sibling, Lupe added, she felt responsible for younger siblings in a family where her father was an alcoholic and abusive and her mother often withdrawn emotionally.

Cruz said not only did Lupe undergo tests, she was able to meet behavioral health specialists.

"I counseled her on the connection between psychological distress and physical symptoms," Galvez wrote. "As of today, all of her tests have been reassuring. On her final visit with me, she expressed gratitude as well as relief — but more importantly, hope about her future."

Officials speak out

PMG PHOTO BY PETER WONG - Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle tries out one of two medical/dental chairs in Virginia Garcia's new mobile clinic. At left is Serena Cruz, director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, which raised $385,000 to pay for it.U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle also spoke.

"In the United States, no one should go without life-saving health care," Bonamici said. "Virginia Garcia's work is fulfilling that important vision."

The Oregon Democrat injected a political note when she decried attacks by President Donald Trump against the Affordable Care Act — the 2010 law signed by his predecessor Barack Obama — and Trump's comments aimed at immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and women.

"I stand with these communities and will always stand up to this administration's harmful, racist and immoral attacks on people in our communities — on immigrants, women, children and people of color," she said.

Doyle took note that one of every five Beaverton residents was born outside the United States — more than 50 languages are spoken at Virginia Garcia's Beaverton wellness clinic opened a year ago — and that Beaverton is the most diverse city in Oregon's most diverse county.

"We strive to meet people where they are – and this (vehicle) will be taking many to provide services in our two counties," he said.

"The new mobile clinic is a shining example of how we can reach deeper into all our communities. We all do our best when we feel our best."

Among others at the ceremony: State Rep. Mitch Greenlick, Washington County Commissioner Jerry Willey, District Attorney Kevin Barton, Beaverton City Councilors Cate Arnold and Lacey Beaty, Hillsboro City Councilor Anthony Martin, Sherwood City Councilor Renee Brouse. Hillsboro School Board member Mark Watson, Portland Community College board members Mohamed Alyajouri and Alexander Diaz Rios, and Felicita Monteblanco, president of the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District board. A staffer represented U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Beaty is manager of school-based clinics for Virginia Garcia.

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