Abby Hoover  
Managing Editor

Last Friday, Mattie Rhodes Center announced the grand opening of its health clinic that will provide easier access to care to all low-income and uninsured Latinos in Jackson County.

Since 2007, Mattie Rhodes, a community development organization in Historic Northeast Kansas City, has served Latino families with mental health care, social services, youth development and health education. A new project and partnership with The Medina Clinic, La Clinica, will become a bilingual one-stop-shop community health center, offering the area’s low-income residents everything from primary care for acute and chronic conditions to domestic violence support.

“With the pandemic and the emergency work that we started doing with COVID outreach and all of that, our board just kind of really took a step back and looked at what it is that we’re doing, and what did the community continue to need post-pandemic,” said John Fierro, President and CEO at Mattie Rhodes. 

The Medina Clinic is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit medical clinic founded in 2009, for the purpose of serving the health needs of the residents of Jackson County, Mo., and surrounding areas.

According to co-founder Dr. Wael Mourad, “we believe that to live your life fully and pursue your dreams, health and wellness are central.”

The clinic will primarily target patients without health insurance. In Jackson County, there are an estimated 18,000 uninsured Latinos. A board certified medical professional will staff the clinic, which will feature a family physician, access to therapists, a psychiatrist and a women’s health nurse practitioner. Patients will be greeted by a Spanish bilingual receptionist and community health worker.

“La Clinica becomes a new entry to Mattie Rhodes, where individuals with healthcare needs will be served by professionals with community service in their hearts and will receive a continuum of care model that addresses the social determinants of health model,” said Alea Surender, Director of Public Health for Mattie Rhodes.

For as low as $35 a visit, participants will be served and have access to programs and services in the areas of education, health, economic development, violence reduction and community development.

“Clearly, the population and the needs are here and aligned with Mattie’s vision to work with the most vulnerable and to respond to improving the community,” Fierro said. “This agency and this particular facility has really offered a continuum of care for individuals. 

Indian Mound, the neighborhood where Mattie Rhodes Center’s Northeast location sits, is home to more than 9,000 Latinos. It is one of Kansas City’s largest neighborhoods and has the highest Hispanic population in any Kansas City, Missouri, neighborhood, Fierro said.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mattie Rhodes facilitated nearly 2,000 COVID vaccinations, and helped with over $1 million dollars worth of rent and utility assistance.

“That is what we’re wanting to do,” Fierro said. “Education, health, economic development, focusing on community context and the environment.”

Crispin Rea, Fourth District City Councilman and Mattie Rhodes board member, is familiar with the health disparities and outcomes for folks of color, including Latinos.

“The COVID pandemic was a very eye opening experience, I think for a lot of us, and what those disparities are and you have a crisis, how those disparities are exacerbated,” Rea said. “It is encouraging that the staff at Mattie Rhodes never stopped trying to innovate – and that’s not a word you hear in the nonprofit sector enough, innovate, try and do something new – There’s an incredible need for this in this community.”

Kansas City’s Fourth District is about 27% Latino, and Rea said he is very pleased to see Mattie Rhodes innovating, continuing to identify the needs in the community, making programming decisions and allocating resources to address those things. He congratulated them, saying, “This is a great step in the right direction.”

Earlier this year, Mattie Rhodes was selected by the Missouri Health Department to be its health lead. 

“That means that they have entrusted us with more than $100,000 to issue out in the form of grants to neighborhood groups, schools, churches, community organizations, to address health disparities within the central region,” Fierro said.

The clinic will also give accessible, affordable access for lab testing, medication refills, referrals to specialists and more.

“We pride ourselves on taking good care of patients,” Dr. Mourad said. “When patients come to us, we have some of the best patient satisfaction ratings. They enjoy our providers listening to them, they enjoy the time that they’re able to spend. They feel that it’s very much a community atmosphere. We take chronic disease care seriously… I just wanted to thank John for this opportunity to come here to Mattie Rhodes and establish a partnership where we can better take care of our communities, where we can work to improve their quality of lives.”

Surrender said while they’ll be open only on Friday afternoons by appointment for the time being, they will be evaluating the need among the uninsured and evolve accordingly.

“For us being in Indian Mound and the large Hispanic population, it makes sense and this facility really has become our kind of one-stop-shop,” Surrender said. “It’s a good representation of everything that Mattie Rhodes Center provides, and the space is more sufficient to accommodate individuals, whereas in some of our other locations, there would be some challenges with parking and just space.”

Ramona Arroyo, Director of Religious Education at Sacred Heart-Guadalupe on the Westside, said at the church they have a lot of Hispanic immigrants who are looking for healthcare. Surrender assured her that undocumented and uninsured individuals would be able to access the clinic.

“We have a lot of immigrants and they really, they’re hard workers,” Arroyo said. “I’m amazed, and they just keep going and going, and so many of them have diabetes or they have high blood pressure, and they’re not getting any kind of care. That’s my major concern. I got to find something, and this is great. This is going to help.”

La Clinica will operate on Fridays, starting September 22, from 1-4:30 p.m. at Mattie Rhodes’s Northeast facility, 148 N. Topping Ave., by appointment only. As a primary care clinic, La Clinica will aim to increase the accessibility and affordability of healthcare. All patients will be welcome. Appointments can be made by calling 816-581-5671.