Denver, Colo.,
09:55 AM

$250,000 Grant from Intermountain Healthcare to Denver Clinic to Triple Healthcare Access to Hispanic/Latinx Community

Megan Mahncke, IH Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Kate Paul, Legacy SCL Health Board Member, Jamie Smith, Saint Joseph Hospital President, Tiffany Capeles, IH Chief Equity Officer, Mark Korth, IH Peaks Region Pre

Intermountain Healthcare (formerly SCL Health) has awarded a major $250,000 grant to support and celebrate Tepeyac Community Health Center’s project to build a new clinic and expand access to primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services for uninsured and underinsured individuals in Denver and surrounding areas.

With continued support and partnership from Intermountain Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Tepeyac has provided healthcare and key services to the Hispanic/Latinx community in the Denver metro area for the past 25 years.

The new Tepeyac Community Health Center clinic will triple the number of patients Tepeyac can serve each year—currently, these patients may not have a primary care provider or may be waiting for a long time for an appointment to see a doctor.

According to the 2021 census, 29% of Denver residents are Hispanic/Latinx – and are Denver’s largest minority population.

With held of this significant grant, Tepeyac’s new facility will be co-located with 150 units of affordable housing and include more than 5,000 square feet for fresh food providers. The expansion will quadruple the original facility’s size to 24,500 square feet and resulting in an increase to the annual patient visit capacity from 20,000 to 37,000.

On Tuesday, Tiffany Capeles, Intermountain Healthcare’s new chief equity officer, presented the grant to caregivers at leaders at Tepeyac Community Health Center.

“Intermountain has a reputable legacy of standing in the gap to serve our communities that are most in need. This is fulfilled through offering health care options that are both high quality and affordable,” said Capeles. “For the members of the East Denver community, we understand there are growing needs within our Hispanic/ Latin American population. This community has seen an 88% growth increase between 2000 and 2019 and now makes up about 29% of the total population in Denver.”

“Our Intermountain Saint Joseph’s Hospital views its community partners as an extension of its ongoing mission, to help people live the healthiest lives possible,” she added. “The Tepeyac Community Health Center is a valued partner who is tuned in to and understands the cultural dynamics and necessary services that directly touch the lives of the communities it serves.”

The $250,000 grant from Intermountain Saint Joseph’s Hospital will enable the building of a new medical pod with 10 patient visit rooms around the perimeter, or the “bull pen”, and offers an open working environment. This area is where the clinical staff will be able to collaborate, share, and provide a team base approach.

“For the past 28 years, Saint Joseph’s Hospital has been a steadfast partner of Tepeyac Community Health Center and has stood with Tepeyac at every stage of our growth. As we prepare to open our new clinical facility, Saint Joseph’s has once again demonstrated their unwavering support, as we continue our mission of serving (or “of providing high quality, affordable healthcare”) to the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Jim Garcia, founder, and chief executive officer for Tepeyac Community Health Center.

Tepeyac will continue to be the health home for the medically underserved providing full spectrum high-quality care for the whole patient and the entire family. 

The lives of patients, such as Lucinda Vidal, have been impacted for the thanks to Tepeyac’s hospitality and patient-focused care.

Vidal worked as a dentist while living in Mexico, her home country. Upon moving to the metro Denver area, she found Tepeyac Community Health Center where she became a patient. 

Vidal and her family migrated to the United States from Mexico to seek refuge as violence infiltrated her hometown.

Empty-handed, with three suitcases of belongings to share between her family of four, and unable to pay for private insurance, she was referred to Tepeyac by a local family member and she became a patient until she and her family were able to get on their feet.

Vidal became inspired and was moved by the way that Tepeyac provided care for those in her community. She now works for Tepeyac and is an expanded dental duties assistant (EDDA), where she helps provide dental care in one of the offered services.

“After I had the opportunity to be employed, I saw that Tepeyac was hiring an EDDA. I thought about returning a little of the love and service that I received at the clinic, and I am excited to see Tepeyac grow and help as much as possible so that the dental office has what it takes to help my community”, said Vidal.

Some of the new services included in the expansion of Tepeyac include comprehensive imaging and pharmacy services, dental and behavioral health care (including treatment for children), retail space offering groceries and fresh food, 150 units of affordable housing, and play areas in a neighborhood that lacks them.

“Imagine being someone who migrates from Central, Latin America or Mexico, who lives in a rural community that doesn’t even have a dentist nor any type of dental care education, let alone preventive dental services. Many of our patients arrive with generalized dental problems, such as periodontal diseases and all forms of infections,” explains Vidal.

“We are patients with chronic infections, who cannot afford or be treated in a general office and have to be referred to a specialist who can administer some type of sedation. We are those who have not been able to obtain dental care for different circumstances including fear and ignorance in our home countries. With Tepeyac’s expansion, we have the opportunity to make the difference in someone’s dental care and smiles,” she added.

Since 1995, Tepeyac has provided team-based, affordable, quality medical, behavioral health, and dental care. Most of the clinical staff are bicultural and bilingual, and all direct-service clinic providers are proficient or fluent in both Spanish and English.

According to their 2020 Annual Report, the age demographic of their patients primarily lies between 18-64 years old.

“Anytime I meet anyone in a situation similar to mine, my first thought is to refer them over to Tepeyac. I do it because I have the confidence that they will receive a comprehensive service. Not just medical, but mental, behavioral health, and Dental service too,” said Vidal. “Tepeyac has a great platform to obtain different resources, our patient navigators will help them connect with other resources they may need as they journey through a new country and culture.”

Tepeyac’s expanded facility is expected to open in early 2023 and will continue to provide resources to communities and remove barriers to healthcare.

“The expansion of their services will not only enable more individuals to be served by 2.5 times, but also does so in a way that brings greater access to services for a fraction of the cost. Typically, hospitals are the most expensive place to seek care,” said Capeles. “Increasing access to healthcare saves lives. It delivers on the economic prosperity of our residents, and we, at Intermountain Saint Joseph’s, are committed to seeing this often under-invested geographic area of our community, thrive.”

“Tepeyac took care of me, my spouse, and my children and I realized at a challenging time that I could afford to pay for the live-saving medication I needed and have a comprehensive service,” said Vidal. “It meant everything to me at the time and still does.”

B-roll of the event:

CBS4's coverage of the story: