The following is provided by Regina Zenali of Valley Community Clinic, Corporate and Media Relations, one of our marketing partners Valley Community Clinic. Read this great story about a Latina who overcame physical obstacles and now inspires other Latinas. VCC is a private non-profit 501 (c)(3) that provides high quality, culturally sensitive primary medical care and related healthcare services to those in need, regardless of their ability to pay
When you meet Dora Aquino for the first time, you are drawn by her warm smile and bubbly personality. She exudes optimism and enthusiasm for life. A new patient of Valley Community Clinic she explains her arrival; “I would walk past the Clinic everyday and wonder if they would help me, I finally got the courage to go in,” said Dora. Her first impressions were pleasant, “it was clean, the staff was so kind to me and Dr. Chapa was wonderful”.
Dora is the ninth of eleven children her mother bore and raised in El Salvador, as an infant she suffered difficulties eating and breathing due to a cleft palate. Her mother had to keep her in an upright position to prevent the milk from projecting through her nose. The vulnerable one-year old underwent her first surgery to reconstruct her lips. Eight years later, she was back under the knife to reconstruct her nasal passages. As she got older, the doctors at a Children’s Hospital in her home country suggested she learn sign language. However, Dora refused. For the most part, her life was normal; she attended school regularly, absent only after the surgeries. Determined to excel despite the lack of sign language, she says, “I sat up front, learned to read lips and took many notes.”She underwent a third surgery at fifteen because her partially closed palate affected her speech. Growing up deaf and mute in El Salvador is difficult because society discriminates against people with disabilities. Throughout her life, her mother and brothers were very patient with her, but they never treated her as if she were ‘different’.
Formerly deaf and mute, Ms. Aquino enjoys sharing her story with others and routinely volunteers at local schools to help kids and encourage moms. When she addresses other Latina women about their struggles, she tells them: never give up, be patient, continue to seek answers and search for resources because they exist.
When she became a patient of the Clinic, she learned that her health was poor due to years of neglect. The forty-four year old, unemployed resident is grateful for the care she receives at Valley Community Clinic. Dr. Chapa is monitoring her ongoing care and has referred Dora to an ophthalmologist.
Valley Community Clinic, a private non-profit 501 (c)(3) tallies over 60,000 plus patient visits annually, providing primary medical care, chronic disease management, women’s health, optometry, HIV/ AIDS testing and treatment, nutrition education, mental health counseling, youth/teen education programs, dentistry, pediatrics, and other services since 1970.