Dr. Stafford sits down with Kasi Woidyla, the Public Relations Officer for Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center. The health center serves the members of Washington and Yamhill county through access to high quality, culturally appropriate health care. In this conversation, we learn about Kasi's role, a little history behind VG, and a variety of upcoming events. Dr. Stafford proudly serves on the board for this amazing organization, and strongly encourages everyone to learn more and support their cause.
Learn more about Virginia Garcia HERE!
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Dr. Stafford: Hi, I'm Dr Michelle Stafford at World of Smiles, here for another addition of our Mixed Dentition podcast. And today my special guest is Kasi Woidyla of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center. And you are the Public Relations Officer-
Kasi Woidyla: I am.
Dr. Stafford: -at this wonderful organization.
Kasi Woidyla: I am.
Dr. Stafford: So why don't we start by you tell me more about Virginia Garcia, and then we can talk about what you do there?
Kasi Woidyla: Okay. Well, Virginia Garcia is a community health center. We have 18 locations in Washington in Yamhill County. We serve about 48,000 people in the community. That's one in every 15 people call Virginia Garcia their medical home. Our patients are amazing; they speak more than 60 different languages. We have just a variety. We have a reputation as being primarily Latino. We are not. As you can tell, with 62 languages, we cover a lot of ground. We have a lot of nationalities, a lot of countries are represented. And of course all are welcome.
Kasi Woidyla: So we love what we do, and it shows in each of our clinics. We've been around, I think I said this already, for 43 years. And it all started back in 1975 when a young girl by the name of Virginia Garcia was coming up from Texas with her family. They were making their way up through California following the crops and farming. And somewhere along the way, in California we believe, she cut her foot. By the time she got to Oregon, it had become infected.
Kasi Woidyla: And they went and sought medical care, but it wasn't that she didn't receive care. It was that she didn't receive culturally appropriate care. So when the doctor saw her, her parents didn't speak English, so he or she was not able to communicate with them effectively. The medication they gave the family was most likely in English. It more than likely was Penicillin, which requires refrigeration, which they did not have access to. So there was a lot of things along the way. It wasn't that she didn't receive care; it was that she didn't receive the care she needed and that she could understand. And so as a result, she died. She was seven years old. And as a result of her death, the community really, really rallied and gathered around that family and around her and just said, "Things like this cannot happen again. It just can't be the norm for people to die because of simple things like a cut on the foot."
Kasi Woidyla: So within two weeks, the founders found themselves sitting in the offices of the Providence Sisters. And they worked out a deal, and within three months the first Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center opened. It was in a three-car garage in Cornelius, and we were primarily focused on migrants and seasonal farm workers. But as they began to work, they began to see a greater need. A broader need in the community. And so they began to see more.
Kasi Woidyla: And it just grew. It just grew out of need. And as a result of that, here we are, 43 years later, 18 clinics. And we are the largest community health center in the state. We are federally qualified, and we pretty much accept anybody that wants to walk in our doors.
Dr. Stafford: Yeah. It's a really wonderful organization.
Kasi Woidyla: It is. I love my job.
Dr. Stafford: It's pretty amazing. I bet. You have a great job.
Kasi Woidyla: I do. And it's easy.
Dr. Stafford: So tell us more about exactly what you do, Kasi.
Kasi Woidyla: So I am the Public Relations Officer. I'm responsible for not only media and PR, but also all marketing, branding guidelines, strategy, and also events. So all of our fundraising events, we have three primary ones every year, and then we have small ones. Like, this year, we're rolling out our new health mobile clinic. It's amazing.
Dr. Stafford: I know, I can't wait to see it.
Kasi Woidyla: It's always so awesome. So we're doing a road show for that so that it has a few extra events around it. Last year, we opened up the Beaverton Wellness Center in Beaverton, and so we had a couple extra events around that last year. But this year, the three primary ones are our Healthcare Symposium, which is coming up really quick, May 13th.
Dr. Stafford: May 13th.
Kasi Woidyla: Yeah. It is on vicarious trauma and trauma-informed care. The people who provide the care for people who have experienced trauma also need care. And it's important that we address for them how to care for yourself in these times so that you can be your best person for those that you're caring for.
Dr. Stafford: That's great. And that's May 13th.
Kasi Woidyla: May 13th at OHSU on the waterfront. Tickets are on our website, virginiagarcia.org.
Dr. Stafford: Yes.
Kasi Woidyla: The other event that we super love is the Grape Adventure. It's in July this year, July 20th. It is a fantastic event. A wine tour ending with a garden party and dinner at Rex Hill Winery.
Dr. Stafford: And I can say that that one is a very fun event. I go every year, usually try to bring some of my friends. And it's usually on a wonderful sunny say. It's a lot of fun.
Kasi Woidyla: Yeah, well this year, it's in July, so it's definitely going to be a sunny day.
Dr. Stafford: Yeah, it's going to be very sunny.
Kasi Woidyla: But that's why we moved it to the evening. So we wanted people to not sit and melt in the sun all day long. And that's why we moved it to a dinner. It's just a lot more relaxed, informal, and fun. So we really enjoy that event.
Dr. Stafford: And a great time to raise money for Virginia Garcia.
Kasi Woidyla: Yeah. It's a fun event, really fun.
Kasi Woidyla: And then the one that I'm super excited about the most is, I think, at the end of the year. September 27th is Prospera.
Dr. Stafford: Yes. That's a fun one too.
Kasi Woidyla: Yes. And we will be at the Sentinel this year, so we're taking it up a notch. It's going to be a little bit more fun, a little more formal. We're going to have a lot of fun things going on. And it's going to culminate in this amazing event to raise money for the Health Center.
Dr. Stafford: Wonderful.
Kasi Woidyla: Pretty excited.
Dr. Stafford: Well, I've been involved with Virginia Garcia for many years.
Kasi Woidyla: Yes.
Dr. Stafford: We see a lot of kids from Virginia Garcia that are referred to us that have extensive dental needs. And I just love the organization, I think it's so important in our community to provide culturally competent healthcare to families, especially during certain times when maybe families have some fear around going to-
Kasi Woidyla: A dentist.
Dr. Stafford: -the dentist or even to the doctor, for various reasons. And so being able to provide that care to these families is so important to our community.
Kasi Woidyla: Well, you are an amazing supporter. And I've only gotten to know you personally in the last year, but you are amazing. You and your husband, amazing people. And wonderful for the community. We love connections like yours. You've served on the Board for a few years now.
Dr. Stafford: Yes, I have.
Kasi Woidyla: And critical and amazing work there, too. So thank you so much.
Dr. Stafford: I love being involved. Thank you. It's an incredible organization. And I feel lucky to be so involved with an organization that provides care to so many people who truly need it.
Kasi Woidyla: They do. They do.
Dr. Stafford: And you truly feel like you're making a difference for these families.
Kasi Woidyla: Yeah. All you have to do is sit in a clinic for, you know, an hour, and just look at the people that come in, and you know that this is where they need to be, where we can take care of them. And so we love doing that. We love empowering people. Because when you're healthy, you are able to do more and to be more. And we don't want healthcare holding people back from being their best selves.
Dr. Stafford: I love it.
Kasi Woidyla: Excellent.
Dr. Stafford: Well, anything else you would like to share about Virginia Garcia, Casey?
Kasi Woidyla: Well, other than we're an amazing organization?
Dr. Stafford: Yes.
Kasi Woidyla: No. We would encourage people to check us out on our brand new website.
Dr. Stafford: Yes. And the website looks wonderful. I know you worked a lot to make that website.
Kasi Woidyla: And I'm super excited about all the information it brings forward. It's not only focused on the patients and providing them with the information they need, but also donors and folks looking for a job. We are always looking for people to join our organization who want a career that is focused on somebody other than themselves. So it's a really great organization to work for. So I would always encourage people to take a look there. But I would encourage people to check out our website and see what Virginia Garcia's all about.
Dr. Stafford: Wonderful. Well, thanks for being part of the podcast today, Kasi. I appreciate it. And if any of our listeners or viewers are interested in going to one of these events with me, please email me. You could be my guest. I will be there again. It's a lot of fun, we would love to bring you. And thank you again for being here.
Kasi Woidyla: Thank you.
Dr. Stafford: And everybody have a wonderful day, and fill the world with smiles. Thanks.
Dr. Stafford: (silence).
Dr. Stafford: And freeze.
Kasi Woidyla: And freeze. And we are clear.