PENDER COUNTY (WWAY) — A medical facility in Pender County is going out of its way to provide good healthcare to a rural, diverse community.
There’s a reason San Martin Medical is named after the Catholic Church’s first black saint. Doctors, like Ricardo Valdivia say Saint Martin was a healer, and he wants to continue his mission.
“We want to give care to the community,” said Valdivia. “Black, white, brown, everybody, in the best manner we can. That’s why we expanded.”
Dr. Valdivia and his staff recently expanded their offices, hoping to help more people and provide more services. They’ve already started offering health education courses, specialist care, and will soon offer therapy dogs. Their goal is to provide a one-stop-shop of resources to patients like Maria Vallecillo, a patient of Valdivia’s for 18 years.
“If you go anywhere,” Vallecillo joked, “If you move to Peru, I’ll follow him to Peru.”
Maria Vallecillo brought her daughter to Valdivia when she was diagnosed with a skin condition called vitiligo. After meeting with specialists across the Cape Fear who didn’t speak the language, she says Valdivia was able to calm her fears, and get her daughter the help she needed.
“So now, she’s a beautiful girl,” Maria beamed. Valdivia nodded in agreement,”Mmhmmm, yes.”
Along with the new addition, San Martin Medical is partnering with Mt. Calvary Center for Leadership, a group dedicated to bettering the community, educating people in mostly rural areas.
Together, the two groups will provide an in-house social worker and immigration lawyer, hoping to gain the trust of immigrants in need of medical assistance, too afraid of hospitals to seek help.
“You’ve got a doctor like Dr. Valdivia who can speak the language, who can relate with you,” Mt. Calvary Center’s Jimmy Tate explained. “Who has the academic and medical and professional expertise and knowledge. He offers a wide range of services. From hypertension, diabetes, to cancer prevention.”
They’re keeping community members safe and healthy, in more ways than one.
“She says it’s very important for her to trust her doctor,” Valdivia said, as he translated for Vallecillo. “She puts her faith in God first, and then in me…. in my hands…. because so far, I’ve done the best for her.”
And like their patron saint, these healers at San Martin treat the doctor-patient bond as a sacred calling.