Nuestra Clinica del Valle, Inc. (NCDV), a federally qualified health center, has served the low income and uninsured families of Hidalgo and Starr Counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the past 45 years. Incorporated in 1971, NCDV (formerly known as Hidalgo County Health Care Corporation) began as the Migrant Program of the local Health Department. In 1978, the migrant criteria was lifted and the Center starting serving the entire community. The service area covers 2,793 square miles directly on the United States/México border. NCDV is governed by a seventeen (17) member Board of Directors, composed of 51% majority consumers as well as professional representatives from the areas of medical, dental, finance, legal, education and community service.
The service area population has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, reaching close to 800,000 residents. The population is primarily Hispanic (88%) and is among the poorest in the U.S. One in three residents has an income below the federal poverty level. Unemployment rates remained in the double digits in 2010 – up to 20% in Starr County. The area is also home to many migrant and seasonal farmworkers – most of whom have no health benefits. The primary populations served by NCDV are the uninsured, medically indigent residents and migrant and seasonal workers and their families.
The most significant barriers to health care access in South Texas are financial. It is estimated that one in three area residents has no health insurance coverage. NCDV serves as the safety net provider for the growing number of working poor families without the financial means or insurance to cover their health care needs. Of the 36,385 NCDV users seen in 2009, 82% had incomes below 100% of poverty and 84% had no public or private health insurance. To ensure access to care for the low income population, services are offered to all residents on a sliding fee scale.
To address the needs of the population, NCDV offers a complete set of integrated, accessible primary health care services at 11 locations – nine in Hidalgo County and two in Starr County. Health services include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatric care, obstetrical and gynecological care, and podiatry. Pharmacy, laboratory services, limited radiological services, social services/case management, nutrition/health education, and integrated eligibility assistance are also provided. Two NCDV clinics offer dental services. Limited behavioral health services including care management and group counseling were added in 2006, addressing a critical unmet need in this population. In 2011 NCDV received its fourth accreditation by The Joint Commission.