When Castulo de la Rocha became one of only 3 paid employees of La Clinica Familiar del Barrio in East Los Angeles in 1977, he brought with him a social conscience informed by his immigration to the United States as a child and his experience witnessing the turbulent 1960s. The free clinic served a mostly Latino population with little or no access to good health care. After three months in his temporary position, the attorney and skilled leader accepted the roles of President and Chief Executive Officer. The company changed its name to AltaMed Health Services Corporation a few years later and has flourished under Cástulo de la Rocha’s direction.
From three employees, the staff has grown to more than 1,200 receiving half a million visits annually at more than 40 clinics and senior-care facilities. AltaMed has become California’s largest FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) and one of the nation’s top five. The medical professionals and social workers take a holistic approach to community health, addressing substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, health education, disease management, youth services, and other areas in addition to medical and dental care. In its efforts to reduce the disparities in health care and minimize costs, the AltaMed medical staff emphasizes nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and prevention.
Several years ago, AltaMed volunteers and friends came up with a win-win fundraising event called East L.A. Meets Napa. The annual gala pairs great Los Angeles Mexican restaurants with wines produced by Napa Valley Latino vintners. In its first year, 2006, the gala attracted 200 people and raised more than $12,000. In 2010, 23 restaurants and 30 wineries participated, drawing more than 1,400 attendees and raising $207,000 to support the nonprofit AltaMed’s services and programs. One of the nation’s most influential Latinos, Castulo de la Rocha also has brought esteem to the organization through his multiple professional leadership roles and national recognition, such as his 2011 induction into the Grassroots Hall of Fame of the National Association of Community Health Centers.
You can follow Castulo on Twitter here.