Health Expo Article - Sunsentinel's East Side Forum, March 22, 2012
211 BankAtlantic Non-Profit Academy Awards 2012
By Alexia Campbell South Florida Sun-Sentinel May 29, 2009 OAKLAND PARK
Rosa Sandoval once took a bus to Light of the World Clinic with a headache, fever and no health insurance. There, Venezuelan cardiologist Erwin Vasquez told her she suffered separation trauma from the two children she left behind in El Salvador. He got her the treatment she needed for free.
That was in 1994. Since then, Vasquez has served thousands of immigrants and poor Broward residents like Sandoval at the nonprofit clinic. Vasquez volunteered more than 500 hours at the clinic last year alone, and was named Volunteer of the Year by the Broward County Health Department.
"He's a good man and doesn't discriminate," said Sandoval, who works as a baby sitter and volunteers to help clean the clinic. "He saw that I was going crazy and he got me out of my nervous crisis."
Vasquez opened the clinic in 1990 when he saw how cultural barriers and lack of access to healthcare stopped immigrants from seeking the care they needed, he said. Public funding was not available, so Vasquez relies mostly on private donations and grants to keep the place going. About 75 patients visit the clinic each week for ultrasounds, gynecology, dermatology and other medical services.
Vasquez spends his Saturdays treating the clinic's patients. Other times he knocks on doors looking for doctors willing to do procedures the clinic can't. Last year, more than 200 people donated time and services to the clinic. But it's frustrating to know the healthcare problem persists despite their efforts, he said.
"It's very painful," said Vasquez, 63, of Fort Lauderdale. "There is a certain degree of injustice. Everyone should be aware that there are people who have been left out."
Vasquez and the multi-lingual volunteers know how to make immigrants feel at ease, said Teresita Carvajal, a Costa Rican patient and volunteer. Vasquez understands the shock many go through when they arrive in the United States and the impact it has on their well-being, she said. Carvajal credits Vasquez for helping her overcome the depression and anxiety that overwhelmed her when she made the move.
"When you get to the United States your spirits are on the floor," said Carvajal, of Weston. "He cured me not only physically, but mentally too."
Big grant allows clinic to help thousands of uninsured
by DON CRINKLAW | Forum Publishing Group
March 21, 2009
Alejandrina Cruz, 73, has been coming to the Light of the World clinic once every two weeks, ever since she had open heart surgery two months ago. And for the most part she feels fine now, she said, thanks to the staff at a small clinic on East Prospect Road in Oakland Park.There they can monitor the levels of blood thinner in her system, check vital signs, make sure she is stable, and write needed prescriptions. And the cost to Cruz is minimal. In fact, she pays only a few dollars in lab fees, she said.Cruz is just one of the 12,000 patients the staff, who are a mix of paid employees and volunteers, treat each year. But like the others, Cruz had to qualify."We're not a walk-in facility," said clinic director Sandy Lozano.
For the staff at Light of World to treat a patient, they must be at 200 percent of the poverty level, meaning patients must make $21,500 or less annually. A family of two must make $29,136 or less. Patients must also show proof of residency in Broward Countyand have no health insurance at all. The clinic is the creation of Chief Executive Erwin Vasquez, the Venezuela-born cardiologist who founded it in 1989. Even then, he saw the overwhelming need for help. "[I saw] the difficulties people have getting access to medical care," Vasquez said. "In the Bible Jesus said, 'What you do for the least of my brethren you do also for me.' That's the philosophy I carry into the practice of medicine." Vasquez has also been able to draw up to $180,000 per year in grant money for the spotless little clinic, with its gleaming appliances that take up 2,000 square feet of this strip development. "Our funding is private: foundations, individuals, corporations," Lozano said. "We're writing grant applications constantly."The clinic was awarded a grant last month of $100,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield. "We'll use part of it to make ourselves better known," Lozano said. "Our only advertising so far is word of mouth. And [to] hire more staff, so we can offer continuity of treatment."David Rabinowitz is a second-year medical student, and one of the 200 volunteers that donate their time at the clinic. "This place is great, from a student's perspective," he said. "So many places won't let students interact with patients, but they allow me to participate."Lynne Palma is a nurse practitioner, one of the four salaried employees at the clinic. She hopes that some of the new grant money will go toward education and prevention, since often people with no health coverage wait until there's an emergency, she said. "We spend a lot of time with people, teaching them about diet and exercise," Palma said. Lozano said many patients know that once they're qualified they can come to the clinic for a variety of treatments, from a biopsy to diabetic education. "We're not a hospital, and sometimes we have to work the phones to find specialists who will donate their services," she said.But for Vasquez, he knows his work has not concluded. "There are many families needing access," he said. "It's a project that never ends." For information about the Light of the World clinic call 954-563-9876 or go to 806 E. Prospect Road.Don Crinklaw is a Gazette staff writer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
OAKLAND PARK - Oakland Park's small but busy Light of the World clinic for moderate-income, uninsured people is receiving its biggest boost ever: A $100,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.The grant being awarded Wednesday will help the free clinic add about 2,000 patients to the 12,000 yearly who get treated there, said Elaine Vasquez, clinic board secretary and wife of Chief Executive Erwin Vasquez, a cardiologist who founded the center in 1989.Also known as Clinica Luz Del Mundo, the center uses volunteer doctors and staffers to treat uninsured people who do not or cannot use publicly funded clinics in Broward County , she said. Patients with incomes up to twice the federal poverty level -- or $44,100 for a family of four -- qualify for free care, and those with higher incomes can also qualify.For more information, call the clinic at 954-563-9876, visit flafreeclinic.org/ClinicPage.asp or go to 806 E. Prospect Rd.
Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The Blue Foundation for a
Healthy Florida, the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield
of Florida (BCBSF), has approved $761,000 in grants to be awarded this
winter to 11 nonprofit Florida organizations providing health-related services to in-need Floridians.
"Around 20 percent of Florida residents are uninsured," said Susan
Towler, executive director of The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida.
"That's more than 3.8 million people who may forgo important medical care
if they don't have access to free and low-cost services. The Blue
Foundation for a Healthy Florida is proud to support organizations working
to help Floridians who do not have access to traditional health care options."
Recipients, grant totals and program areas funded are:
-- Alert Health, Inc. (formerly Hep-C Alert, Inc.) -- $100,000 -- linkage
coordinator, lab counselor, cholesterol and glucose tests to support
preventative health screenings in North Miami.
-- Clinica Luz Del Mundo (Light of the World Clinic) -- $100,000 -- case
manager/community outreach coordinator, medical assistant, supplies and
lab fees to increase patient capacity in a free medical clinic in
-- Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine -- $44,877 -- women's health
services for uninsured women of Polk County.
-- Manatee County Rural Health Services, Inc. -- $97,250 -- registered
dietician and health educator to help patients from Manatee, Desoto and
a portion of Sarasota counties manage their diabetes.
-- Marion County Children's Advocacy Center, Inc. -- $80,960 --
therapist and child advocate supporting child abuse victims in Marion
-- Miami Beach Community Health Center, Inc. -- $100,000 -- physician and
clinician to provide primary healthcare to uninsured and underinsured
South Florida residents.
-- Orange County Health Department -- $100,000 -- oral health services for
uninsured African-American women of Orange County who are either
pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
-- Refuge House, Inc. -- $10,000 -- health and outreach services for more
victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Big Bend area via a
-- Safehouse of Seminole, Inc. -- $10,500 -- prescription and
over-the-counter medications, emergency room visits, first aid and
hygiene supplies for domestic violence victims in Seminole County.
-- Vision is Priceless Council. -- $57,413 -- increased eye examinations
and treatment for in-need residents of Clay and Nassau counties.
-- The Volunteers In Medicine Clinic -- $60,000 -- bilingual diabetes
educator, nurse practitioner and bilingual educational materials for
Martin County patients.
The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida awards grants during two
grant cycles per year. With the completion of the 2008 winter grant cycle,
The Blue Foundation will have presented 200 grants and 25 awards totaling
more than $13 million since its founding in 2001.
The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida is a separate, philanthropic
affiliate of BCBSF incorporated in the state of Florida. The Blue
Foundation for a Healthy Florida, and its parent, BCBSF, are independent
licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of
independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information on
The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, please visit its Web site at
3 Kings Festival
By Scott Wyman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
January 5, 2009
Decked in flowing green, purple and blue robes, the Moreno boys crossed the stage bearing gifts.
Dakota, Dylan and Logan weren't quite sure who was supposed to be which king, just that they were part of the Christmas story of the Three Kings. The festival Sunday in Pompano Beach was a chance for them to do what they enjoy — perform before a crowd. Last summer, they were in the musical Big! with their father at the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater. "They love to do anything where they are on stage," said their mother, Helena Moreno of Plantation. "They love the costumes."The Three Kings festival is a tradition for families from Latin America and marks the day in the Christmas calendar when wise men arrived bearing gifts for Jesus following his birth. The Fiesta de Reyes at the Pompano Citi Centre benefited the Light of the World Clinic, a free health-care program for the poor run by volunteer doctors and nurses. The clinic held the festival for 12 years on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, but moved the event to Pompano Beach this year in hopes of reaching out to the Hispanic community in northern
Broward County. After the children's theater re-enacted the story of the three kings, families spent the afternoon watching folk entertainment, tasting holiday treats and browsing craft booths. The festival featured Latin folk dance and music, including a show of Brazilian capoeira that combines martial arts and dance. Scott Wyman can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4511.
Copyright © 2009,
By SEAN d'OLIVEIRA
Forum Publishing Group
December 18, 2008
Residents wishing to extend their holiday celebrations will have a chance at the 12th annual Fiesta de Reyes Festival scheduled for Jan. 4 at the Pompano Citi Centre.The celebration includes holiday treats, drinks, and Latin entertainment featuring folkloric demonstrations from various Hispanic countries, strolling mariachis, salsa bands and dance lessons.
"We try to do it as an educational tool to bridge the multicultural gap," said Elaine Vasquez, producer of the festival. "The more people that can learn and understand why other cultures celebrate the holidays, it can't hurt."For the first time in its history, the festival will be organized in Pompano Beach after being presented off Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale for more than a decade.The festival is highlighted by a re-enactment of the Three Kings, which is when the kings followed the northern star and found Baby Jesus. The play is scheduled at noon Jan. 4 and will be performed by local children from the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater. "The performances are phenomenal," Vasquez said. "They're really talented kids."To keep participants entertained throughout the day, a Brazilian Capoeira show, an El Dorado Mexican Dance demonstration, an Artistic Explosion exhibition and a performance from vocalist Kourtney Gallego are part of the scheduled entertainment."All performances will have a mix of holiday spirit in them," Vasquez said.More than 25 arts and crafts vendors will also be on-hand to help bring in more Latin favor to the festival and explain the traditions behind the celebrations."We try to display how other countries celebrate Christmas in a big way," Vasquez said. Children can compete in a coloring contest and get their faces painted by professionals. Booths and sponsorships are still available and Vasquez said they would provide any nonprofit agency with a free booth.Proceeds from the event will benefit the Light of the World Clinic, a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by Dr. Erwin M. Vasquez.The organization offers free healthcare services to disadvantaged people in
Broward County and medical volunteers will be on-hand offering a free healthcare fair, where residents can receive free blood pressure readings.The healthcare fair targets underprivileged residents who cannot afford health insurance and thus cannot receive the necessary treatments, Dr. Vasquez said."We're trying to break through the cracks by giving them access to medical [tests]," Dr. Vasquez said.Parents wanting their children to receive the flu vaccine can do so at the healthcare fair, all at no charge."In these difficult times, we want families to come together, enjoy, and not pay for anything," Elaine Vasquez said.