There are many secrets to living a long life, but Carmen Martinez’s is quite simple: service to others.
“We are here today because of Martinez’s hard work,” said Ana Melgoza, San Ysidro Health’s vice president of external affairs. “She continues to provide that service to everyone, and we love that she continues to be with us.” A local clinic was needed. So Martinez, a working mother of seven children, organized with six other mothers to find ways to expand health care services that would not only be offered in their neighborhood but would be fiscally accessible to the largely Mexican-American agricultural community near the U.S.-Mexico border.The mothers enlisted the help of the late Dr. Ruth Covell, an associate dean at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine who later became a San Ysidro Health founding board member.
Today, the nonprofit employs more than 2,600 people who offer a vast network of services, including medical and dental care, behavioral health and the WIC nutrition program. It also has HIV centers, mobile medical units, school-based health centers and the Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE.“It was a dream of some poor immigrant people who thought it could make this a different San Ysidro for our children,” Martinez told The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2008.