“Connecting with children and their families and showing them that you care is the first step in developing a trusting relationship and the most important part of being a doctor. It is that special relationship that is so vital in practicing the art of medicine.”
Solomon P. Ortiz
“A PASSION FOR IMPROVING THE LIVES OF THOSE AROUND HER”
As a child growing up in Brownsville, the town where she now practices medicine, Elena Marin was interested in science and math, and thought of becoming a doctor. Her mother, a nurse, worked at a clinic for indigent patients and often took her daughter with her on weekends. Her father, a lab technician, cautioned that practicing medicine would leave little time for raising a family.
So Marin decided to become a pharmacist. But during her final year at the University of Houston School of Pharmacy, one of the physicians at the hospital where she was doing her clinical rotation asked if she had ever considered medical school. "I said 'yes' and went home thinking I really could become a doctor," she recalled.
Eventually, Marin was admitted to the Boston University School of Medicine and worked as a pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital while attending classes. Thus began a meritorious career that has seen her rise to become Executive Director of Su Clinica Familiar, a non-profit health organization in Brownsville that provides low-cost, quality health care services for more than 100,000 patients a year, many of them needy seasonal and migrant workers.
Su Clinica's executive director since 1996, she joined the group in 1986 as a staff physician with the National Health Service Corps after completing a pediatric residency at Duke University Medical Center and returning home to Brownsville.
Nominated as a Local Legend by Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz (D-TX-27), she still enjoys practicing medicine despite the demands on her time as an administrator. "I started out as a pediatrician and I still love the field. I love working with children and their parents," she declares.
Su Clinica opened in 1971 with one small clinic and one doctor, supported by a federal grant obtained by the local Catholic Diocese. Today, Marin oversees six clinics and 250 employees providing a full range of medical, dental and social services. "The foundation of Su Clinica has always been that we will be here to provide access to health services-regardless of peoples' ability to pay," she says. "The big challenge now is how can we do more with less money? We still need to provide high quality care that is cost effective and take good care of our patients."
Another, more personal challenge for Marin is balancing family with work. "My family and my two children are absolutely important to me; I've been fortunate that my husband has been extremely supportive," she says.
"I'd like to feel that I've made a difference in my community-that I helped improve the health of people here. I get up every day and look forward to coming to work. I feel that it is not just one person that makes a difference. It's everybody working together that has the most profound effect," she declares.
Registered Pharmacist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and co-author of a newsletter for pharmacists about pharmacokinetics, drug interactions and the practical use of commonly prescribed medications.)
Appointed Medical Director, Su Clinica Familiar, Harlingen, TX
Appointed vice chairperson, board of directors, Valley Health Care Network
Becomes Executive Director, Su Clinica Familiar
Appointed Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio
Named to the board of directors, Valley Baptist Medical Center; appointed to the State Dept. of Health and Human Services Migrant Health Network Workgroup
Named to Office of the Governor's Bi-National Health Care Committee
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA