AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month! A free clinic supports this group as well as other underserved populations in the CSRA. 

"It is insurmountable. There are around 25,000 uninsured people in this community.” said Dr. William Salazar, Asociación Latina de Servicios del CSRA (ALAS) President.

This is a local effort to serve the underserved.

"It is every human being's responsibility to help the other.” said Dr. Salazar.

Clínica Latina is managed by the nonprofit Asociación Latina de Servicios del CSRA (ALAS). ALAS was established in 2005. The organization supports the wellbeing of Hispanic people and other underserved populations in the CSRA. It operates on Augusta University’s Health Sciences Campus. The free clinic serves those without health insurance and/or anyone who’s below the national 200% poverty level. The organization goes beyond healthcare, with interpreter and identification services, English language education and cultural education to the community.

"We now see an average of 200 patients a month. Many of these people come from their countries, they are very uneducated people, they come here and serve the community. Many of these people work cleaning houses, many work in construction, many of the people work in the fields, peach fields and the onion fields...Many of these people come to serve other people and to help. They don't speak the language. They don't get any connection. They're afraid to go to the hospital because the bills are going to be insurmountable.” said Dr. Salazar.

Dr. Salazar says this need is only growing.

"The cost of healthcare, COVID pandemic, the unemployment rate, the fact that many people living at the poverty level lost their jobs– that’s making the access to healthcare worse.” said Dr. Salazar.

Volunteers, including AU students, help make the effort possible.

"I am Hispanic. One of the reasons I came to medical school was to help my own community.” said Alexa Ghulam, Clinic Coordinator.

"I am half Dominican, half Peruvian. My mother is a physician and growing up it was always something very inspiring watching her give back to the community we come from.” said Stephanie Revoredo, Clinic Coordinator.

Clínica Latina is open on the first and third Wednesday each month from 5 to 8 pm.

"Every single time we have a clinic, we have a waitlist. So, the need is great.” said Ghulam.

"I mean, we show up with several patients already outside of the door ready to be seen." said Revoredo.

These students believe education and representation are keys to healthcare access.

"I think a lot of people take for granted that they know how the healthcare system works here.” said Ghulam.

"Something that is known is that patients tend to have better outcomes when they feel like they can connect with those providers.” said Revoredo.

The clinic is looking for more interpreters. They say even conversational Spanish helps. Send a message to [email protected] if you'd like to volunteer.

There are also plans to go bigger. ALAS plans to open a new outpatient health center to house its clinic operations by early 2023.

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