La Clinica del Pueblo

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La Clinica del Pueblo is a non-profit, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) clinic that serves the Latino population of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.


La Clinica's mission is to provide culturally appropriate health services to persons in the Latino community regardless of their ability to pay.[1]


La Clínica del Pueblo (LCDP) was founded in 1983 to address the growing medical needs of Washington's Latino community by Salvadorian activists at the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) and "self-proclaimed North American hippies" at Plenty International.[2] Many Salvadorians fled to Washington during the Salvadoran Civil War, seeking refuge, but were unable to access traditional forms of health care due to linguistic and cultural barriers. LCDP opened to serve these immigrants, as well as other Latin Americans fleeing war-torn countries, but soon started serving the entire Latino community.

Initially, LCDP provided only basic medical care one day a week, at no cost, staffed by volunteer doctors and health promoters. It quickly became a safe place for undocumented refugees to go for care from understanding individuals. Many refugees planned on returning to El Salvador and Latin America after the war ended, but it soon became clear that many would instead settle in Washington. As the Latino population grew, so did LCDP. It began to provide many different social services, such as health education and outreach.


In 1988, Dr. Juan Romagoza, himself a refugee from El Salvador, became director of LCDP. Under Romagoza, LCDP expanded the scope of its operations to alternative medicine, community health outreach and prevention. In 1989, LCDP received a grant from the DC Mayor's Office of Latino Affairs to start a HIV/AIDS program. In 1990, LCDP received its first multi-year contract from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to provide physicals to Vietnamese refugees.

At this time, LCDP was still operating under CARECEN. Due its growth, LCDP's staff and patients lobbied for autonomy and in 1994, LCDP became an independent non-profit organization.


From 1995-2003, LCDP grew rapidly, increasing its budget from $800,000 to $4.6 million. During this period, LCDP also began accepting reimbursements from Medicaid, which meant it technically was no longer a free clinic. This period also saw the creation of the interpreter services program, a Social Services Department which provided patients with case managers, and the launch of an HIV/AIDS prevention program.

In 2000, LCDP received a large grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which allowed its mental health department to hire full-time therapists for the first time.

In 2007, Romagoza stepped down after 20 years and returned to El Salvador to continue his medical outreach there. Enrique Cobham, the current chief administrative officer, served as interim executive director until 2009, when Alicia Wilson was appointed as Executive Director. Wilson, who was development director before her appointment as executive director, started at LCDP in 1999 as a case manager. After her appointment as executive director, she started “¡La Clínica Adelante!”, an ambitious agenda to grow LCDP's patient programs as well as its resources.

In 2007, LCDP became a Federally Qualified Health Center and implemented a sliding-scale payment system, which ended its tenure as a "free-clinic". LCDP does not currently accept private insurance, only Medicare, Medicaid and DC alliance.

In 2007, LCDP served 7,500 clients with over 55,000 health services.[3]

Currently,[when?] LCDP now has a staff of around 80 employees and over 100 volunteers. LCDP sees about 100 patients a day.

Service areas[edit]

LCDP patient services are divided into six different areas. They are:

  • Medical services: provides basic health care.
  • Patient support services: provides case management in areas like housing and HIV, as well as health education.
  • Mental health/substance abuse: provides substance abuse help and mental health services
  • Community health action: works with communities on HIV prevention and other issues, like transgender rights and youth issues.
  • Interpreter services: provides patients, staff and the community at large with interpretation services.
  • Practice management: includes clinical reception staff as well as intake staff.


External links[edit]