Diabetic Patient Thankful for Free Services at McAllen Clinic

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MCALLEN – A diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming and expensive especially for low-income families. A Hidalgo County clinic helps patients manage their diabetes - all free of charge.

Apolonio Garcia thought he’d never be able to provide for his family again a few months ago.

“I started to see blurry and fell at work. I fell and got laid off due to an injury. A piece of wood pierced my chest and I didn’t want to tell my boss that I wasn’t able to see. I continued to work,” he said.

Garcia’s loss of vision was due to the diabetes he didn’t know he had.

Hope Family Health Center changed everything for him.

The free medical clinic offers care to need patients, like Garcia.

Jackie Valdez with the clinic said diabetes is widespread in low-income communities.

“Access is a huge thing. Some of our patients have never received medical care. Some of our patients come in and don’t know they’re diabetic,” she said.

The Hope Clinic doesn’t just provide medical care. They also offer nutrition support and education, counseling services, transportation to and from appointments, and even specialty care.

“It’s important for us, a healthcare team, to focus not just on their sugar but to focus on them as a whole. Because if we focus on the whole person, then hopefully their sugar will also improve,” Valdez said.

Most of the doctors treat Hope patients on a volunteer basis. The goal is a healthier community.

Garcia said he would be blind right now if it weren’t for a volunteer doctor.

“I didn’t have a way to solve my problem, because I had to pay around $4,800 for my surgery,” he said.

He’s got his eye sight back and his diabetes in check. The healthier lifestyle he’s living is also being passed down to his children.

“I tell them don’t (do) what caused me to be sick. I tell them not to eat candy. I used to drink a 24 pack of sodas every eight days. I used to love bread. Now they ask me and I have to tell them that is bad for them. I don’t want them to go through the same problems that I ended up with,” he said.

Garcia is just one of many success stories at Hope Family Health and he won’t be the last. 

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CHANNEL 5 NEWS is dedicating two weeks of coverage and events to diabetes. As part of Heart of the Valley, there will be free screenings, live Q&A session with doctors and more. Learn more on the Heart of the Valley page.