FRONTERA’S WORK WAS INITIATED IN 1998 by students returning from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. During clerkships at the Brownsville Community Health Center in Brownsville, Texas, they observed first-hand the misfortune of the “working poor” (i.e., those who cannot afford insurance, yet earn too much for Medicaid and are too young for Medicare) who rely on publicly funded clinics for their health care. With the loss of government aid, these clinics are cutting back on services and have begun to compete both among themselves and with private providers for insured patients, leaving the uninsured to fend for themselves. To aid these patients, and as evidence of their commitment to the humane tradition of medicine, this handful of students founded Frontera de Salud, an all-volunteer organization which has grown to include healthcare professionals-in-training at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, and the University of Texas School of Public Health.
The greatest strength of this organization is the health professional students. There are currently four Frontera de Salud chapters in Texas. When Frontera de Salud began, its services extended to approximately 600 patients per year, primarily in the underserved community of Cameron Park near Brownsville, Texas. With the addition of chapters and volunteers, that number has grown to approximately 10,000 patients per year as the program has expanded into communities in Houston, San Antonio, Galveston, Texas City, Corpus Christi, Robstown, Banquette, Laredo, McAllen and numerous unincorporated communities throughout Nueces, Webb, Bexar and Cameron Counties.
* Well-woman clinics, home visits, health fairs, farmer’s markets and health screenings in Cameron County.
* Home visits and OT/PT services, health fairs and screenings, farmer’s markets, exercise classes, and homeless services in Nueces County.
* Sports physicals, vaccinations, health screenings, and clinic referrals in Webb County.
* Student-run free clinics, well-woman services, youth programs focused on exercise and healthy diet, senior care home visits and nutrition programs, healthy family home visits, healthy living events and physician referrals, community gardens, and active living exercise programs in Galveston County.
* Student-run free clinics and healthy living events and physician referrals in Bexar County.
Details as to these activities and others can be reviewed on various Web sites pertaining to Frontera (http://fronteradesalud.org, http://frontera-uthscsa.weebly.com/, and http://utco.org), which include videos documenting Frontera’s outreach.