Loving, Serving, and Walking Alongside Our Patients in North Philadelphia

by Ted Voboril October 2, 2015

In June 1989, Esperanza Health Center opened its doors. We began as a small walk-up clinic near the corner of North Fifth and Indiana Streets in the heart of Latino North Philadelphia, “El Centro de Oro,” with a few paid staff and volunteers. By God’s grace, today we’re a multi-site health center with over 190 employees, serving nearly 15,000 patients from one of the city’s most medically-underserved communities. We are thankful for Tenth’s faithful partnership with us in ministry throughout our history!

Fast facts:

  • Established 1989
  • Over 190 employees
  • Serving nearly 15,000 patients
  • Trained over 200 health promoters, volunteer chaplains and 21 pastors
  • Lay leaders from 15 local churches

We’re delighted to announce that two Tenth Church members, Ruling Elder Dr. Albert (Bert) Fink, Jr. and Dr. Pamela Garcia, have recently become physicians at Esperanza! They join our dedicated team of 29 primary medical and dental clinicians, including pediatrician Dr. Laura Layer, also a member of Tenth. 

Dr. Albert Fink, Jr. Dr. Pamela Garcia Dr. Laura Layer

Dr. Fink comes to Esperanza after having practiced internal medicine for over 20 years in Delaware County, and Dr. Garcia recently completed her residency in family medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. This past summer, they both completed Spanish language immersion training in Guatemala in preparation. Please pray for Drs. Fink and Garcia, particularly for their language skills as they meet with many new patients. 

Compelled by the love of God in Christ Jesus

While much has changed over a quarter-century, the heart of Esperanza’s ministry remains the same. Our mission statement begins, “Compelled by the love of God in Christ Jesus”—in response to God’s great love for us, we seek to love and serve our patients by providing excellent, compassionate care in an atmosphere of dignity. Beyond just delivering high-quality medical care and other services, we come close to our patients, seeking to identify with and walk alongside them. We do this by speaking Spanish, by hiring many people from our community, and by praying with our patients. And, we’ve trained over 200 community health promoters, who are actively reaching out to their neighbors and within their churches. By coming close to our patients and community residents, we have the privilege of seeing God powerfully at work in many lives. Here are just two examples of how we’re doing this, with God’s help:

I. Volunteer Training

We’ve trained volunteer chaplains, 21 pastors, and lay leaders representing 15 different local churches. Our volunteer chaplains began to serve with us in the fall of 2014 under the leadership of Esperanza’s staff chaplains, Rev. Andrés Fajardo and Rev. Miguel Díaz. They provide spiritual care, prayer, and the sharing of the gospel message with our patients. Several months ago, Chaplain Andrés and one of our volunteer chaplains met with “Luisa,” a patient from the Dominican Republic, and her young son. At that time, their husband/father was incarcerated in the Philadelphia County jail. Following a discussion about spiritual life, Luisa said she wanted to put her faith in Christ as her Savior, as did her son—and the chaplains prayed with them towards that end! Another volunteer chaplain (also from the Dominican Republic) later invited them to attend her Spanish-speaking church. Luisa also provided Andrés with her husband’s prison address, and Andrés corresponded with Luisa’s husband and his cellmate; they wrote back that they wish to find a church when they are released. In addition, Andrés has sent Spanish Bibles to the two men through the prison’s chaplain. 

II. Esperanza’s HIV Care Team: Continuing Hope's Legacy

Founded in 2000, Esperanza’s HIV Care Team continues the legacy of Tenth Church’s former Hope ministry to those with HIV/AIDS. The team includes clinicians, nurses, and outreach and support staff, and is like family for our patients as they engage with them in the most important matters of life. Patients will often come looking for Ana Lapp, RN, the Lead Nurse Care Coordinator—even on days when they don’t have appointments. They stop in to ask for help, to celebrate life’s victories and to find support in their struggles, and to pray. And, the team cares in other ways: last Christmas, they engaged other Esperanza staff members in knitting over 200 hats as gifts for every one of our HIV patients!

Thank you for your prayers for all of our clinicians and staff members, that God would be glorified in and through Esperanza’s ministry of hope and healing for the people of our North Philadelphia community. If you’d like to receive periodic ministry updates, you can sign up to receive our e-newsletter.

© 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church.

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Ted Voboril. © 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org