Doctor Vance Mason spread cool, blue gel around Noemi Moranchel’s belly. A screen lit up beside them, broadcasting Moranchel’s ultrasound in the Inner City Health Center’s examination room.
Mason talked Moranchel through her ultrasound in Spanish — the head and the heart looked good, he said — and finished up the appointment by giving the patient her April due date.
Mason, an OGBYN, has volunteered at the Inner City Health Center for 25 years. The Denver non-profit health center serves patients who are low-income, underinsured, uninsured and undocumented by offering sliding-scale payment options for those who need it. The clinic provides medical care from maternity through pediatrics, adult and senior care, dental treatments and behavioral health counseling.
“We do a good job with the resources we have,” Mason said.
Wednesday mornings are when the waiting room fills with expectant mothers seeking prenatal care. Some patients bring their little ones in tow who busy themselves in a playroom while first-time moms sit expectantly waiting to have their questions answered.
Prenatal coordinator Carla Giacomazzi runs the show, zooming through the clinic to tend to a seemingly endless array of tasks. She pops in and out of exam rooms serving patients, mentors the medical residents who are gaining on-the-job learning experience and fills out paperwork before taking off down the hall again.
“I like helping women have healthy babies,” Giacomazzi said. “I like connecting them with birth control postpartum. I want to best support whatever it is the patient wants and needs.”
About 60% of ICHC’s patients are uninsured compared to an 11.6 % uninsured rate for all of Denver, according to the Colorado Health Institute. Another 30% of the center’s clients use Medicaid. More than half of patients who visit the faith-based center are Hispanic, the organization said.
The health center, established in 1983, provides intersectional care, meaning doctors seeing a woman for prenatal care may notice the patient is feeling overwhelmed and send her to the clinic’s behavioral wellness program for mental health resources.
Patients close to their due date are sent home from their appointments with a donated car seat and plenty of diapers to help them on their motherhood journey.
Giacomazzi said she loves being able to help patients no matter their financial situation.
“There should be no barriers to getting care today,” Giacomazzi said.