EYE ON HEALTH: Closing the healthcare gap in Chattanooga - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

EYE ON HEALTH: Closing the healthcare gap in Chattanooga

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They're the fastest growing minority population, but Hispanics are twice as likely as Blacks and three times as Whites to lack a regular healthcare provider and be insured.

 Those numbers were reported by the Pew Research Center. That's why one doctor tells us a recently opened clinic in Chattanooga is an important step to help bridge that gap.  
"This is my favorite part of going through the clinic," said Dr. Kelly Arnold/Clinica Medicos. 

From a dilapidated 6,000 square foot warehouse on East 23rd Street to a full-service physician's office outfitted with a lab, an ultrasound room and an X-ray machine, to serve the community's growing and undeserved Hispanic population like this patient. He came in with a painful skin infection on one of his legs that made it nearly impossible for him to walk. 

"We see a range of patients from the newborn to a man who might come in from the work site with a chainsaw laceration to a pregnant woman, to a 12-year-old with asthma," said Dr. Kelly Arnold.

"Dr. Arnold says statistics show there is definitely a need for a facility like Clinica Medicos in this community. Nearly one in three people are uninsured in the U.S. is Hispanic, and nearly 65% of those who walk through the clinic doors don't have insurance."

"Part of this vision has been to increase access to care at an affordable cost for the growing Latino community," said Arnold.

Because without that access, they often go without treatment, until faced with a life threatening situation that sends them to the emergency room.

"Let's take care of this before it becomes more serious, before you have to be hospitalized," said Arnold.

Clinica Medicos is Chattanooga's first comprehensive bilingual medical clinic targeted specifically for the city's Latino population. Giving patients more access, the clinic is open on the weekends and later hours, because sickness doesn't always happen during normal business hours.

There are two full time doctors on staff, Dr. Arnold and Dr. Phillip Sutherland. They say it's important for their patients to feel comfortable when they come in for treatment. The bright walls are decorated with large photos of patients who've been treated by Dr. Arnold. 

"We want them to feel that we embrace them, we enhance their culture, we also adapt to seeing all forms of medicine," said Arnold.

After about three weeks of treatment this patient says he's doing a lot better.

"He said he lives nearby and believes this clinic is better than any he's been to because he's been treated well and he's healing," said Arnold. 

And that's what Dr. Arnold and the entire staff wants to hear. They hope to continue to bridge the health care gap by expanding in the future to include dentistry.

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