“If there hadn’t been doctors in Tampa Bay who donated their time when I was young, my life would probably have been very different. Because of that I find my current work fulfilling and ironic”. – Jorge Riopedre (USA ’15)
Jorge Riopedre admits that his life would likely have taken a far different course had it not been for doctors who cared for him when he was a child. “I was born with pretty significant health problems,” he said, and complicating matters was the fact that he was the son of two Cuban immigrants who didn’t speak English.
Riopedre is the president of Casa de Salud, a healthcare center for the foreign born community of metropolitan St. Louis. Casa de Salud offers clinical care, mental health counseling, psychiatry, and a wide range of patient advocacy services for a flat fee of $25. As well, the organization collaborates with over 60 local and regional partners to create healthcare access for marginalized populations, and offers on-site classes on health related topics. Regardless of wealth, insurance, or legal status, Casa de Salud hopes to provide health care for immigrants and refugees from all nationalities.
Since taking over as president in 2011, Riopedre has guided the nonprofit into its current position as health care provider for over 4,000 people annually, delivering over 10,000 patient services in the St. Louis community. As just one example, he told a story about a woman who had endometrial cancer. Casa de Salud completed all the paperwork, found a hospital that would do surgery for free, and four days later she had the surgery. Riopedre finds the work incredibly meaningful, and shares credit for the results with his team of talented individuals.