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Medical clinic opens at Casa de Amparo’s campus for girls, young women

A ribbon-cutting marked the opening of the TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center at Casa de Amparo.
A ceremonial ribbon-cutting marked the opening of the TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center at Casa de Amparo on Thursday. San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones (in red dress), left, and Casa de Amparo CEO Michael Barnett, Lennar San Diego County Division President Ryan Green, TrueCare President and CEO Michelle Gonzalez and San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond.
(Charlie Neuman/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center will provide on-site free health care in San Marcos

Girls and young women living at Casa de Amparo’s Casa Kids campus in San Marcos no longer have to catch a ride to nearby cities for medical appointments. Now, health care is just a short walk to a cottage across the lawn.

The newly opened TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center will be staffed by a physician twice a month to provide medical services to the nonprofit’s residents, ages 12 to 18, who are living at the campus after being removed from homes where they were neglected or abused. From 25 to 30 teens usually live on the site, where the average stay is between six and 24 months.

“This health center on campus is just a game-changer for us,” said Casa de Amparo CEO Mike Barnett at a Thursday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“These young women, they’ve never had a reason to trust an adult in their life, really,” he said, adding that the young residents likely have endured some trauma in their lives and could feel scared if told they were being taken to see a doctor in another city.

Now, they merely have to go up the hill to a cottage where they will meet a pediatrician they have visited before, he said.

“Casa de Amparo means ‘House of Protection,’ and they know that they’re safe here, and that the health care services that they receive on site are going to lead to better outcomes for all concerned,” Barnett said.

Erin Gospodarec gives a tour of the exam room at the TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center in San Marcos.
Erin Gospodarec, at right, Casa de Amparo’s associate executive director of operations, gives a tour of the exam room at the new TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center at Case de Amparo in San Marcos.
(Charlie Neuman/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

TrueCare operates 11 nonprofit community health clinics in North San Diego County and South Riverside County, serving 60,000 patients annually. Dr. Tina Fallon will be at the new Casa de Amparo clinic twice a month and already sees residents at the nonprofit’s San Marcos and Oceanside clinics. Fallon expects to see eight to 10 patients each day during her visits, and said the new center will be especially convenient for residents who are mothers.

“They’d have to pack their children up and would have to come with a guide, one of the employees who would drive them,” she said. “It’s way easier if you can just walk from your room to your doctor’s appointment.”

The 600-square-foot clinic includes an exam room and lab for a variety of healthcare services for residents and babies. Developer Lennar Corp. created the health center by converting a building that had been used for residents.

Ryan Green, president of Lennar’s San Diego division, said the partnership with Casa de Amparo began about three years ago when the developer chose the nonprofit as the beneficiary of its annual gift drive.

Mike Platis and Bella Latrach at the TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center at Casa de Amparo in San Marcos.
Casa de Amparo board member Mike Platis, left, speaks with the nonprofit’s events coordinator Bella Latrach outside the nwe TrueCare & Lennar Foundation Health Center at Casa de Amparo in San Marcos.
(Charlie Neuman/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Throughout the drive and during the delivery of the gifts, many of our associates had an opportunity to learn more about the operation,” Green said. “They were so moved by the mission of Casa de Amparo and the individuals navigating the challenges to achieve their goals, they recommended we dedicate more of our efforts and more of our resources to ensure their ongoing success.”

TrueCare President and CEO Michelle Gonzalez said staffing the Casa de Amparo clinic is part of the nonprofit’s mission of provide health care to all.

“By making these primary care medical services available to these young women and their children, we’re investing in each of them because we believe in the promise that they hold for a brighter future,” she said.

Gonzalez said TrueCare will open three more community health clinics and expand its fleet of mobile clinics by the end of the year.

San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones also spoke at the ceremony and said the collaboration involved in opening the new center shows people can still set aside their differences during a divisive time.

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who served two years on the San Marcos City Council and was the city’s mayor from 2006 to 2018, said the new clinic was the latest of several efforts to help youth and provide health care in North County.

“This Twin Oaks Valley is kind of a valley of healing,” he said.


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