The Zócalo is a vast open space found in the center of Mexico City, surrounded by historic buildings. While the architectural beauty of this space is undeniable, it’s the people cooking and eating the foods, it’s the aromas that fill the air, and it’s the music drumming loudly that define The Zócalo as the heart of Mexico City. It is the community that brings The Zócalo to life – cementing it as a place where people come together and strengthen their community through shared culture.
It's also the inspiration for the founding of Zócalo Health, where we prioritize relationships, community, and culture as the center of the Latino healthcare experience.
Whether we or our ancestors came from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Columbia, or Argentina (to name a few), we are united in our desire to progress while preserving the unique culture and traditions that our families have brought to the US. With over 30+ combined years working across different sectors of healthcare, we shared that same desire and vision to bring back the culture and connection felt in communities like The Zócalo to healthcare.
As founders, we both recall growing up and visiting city centers across Central and South America. We always connected back to our memories of experiencing a community coming together in a central area for resources and connection to each other. We remember the food, the stories told, the heartache witnessed, and the laughter shared. These sights, sounds, and stories of Latin American cultures were all imprinted on us growing up in the US and always brought comfort to us – a comfort missing from our personal and professional lives working in healthcare.
Today, over 62 million people in the US identify as Latinos. We are the fastest growing multicultural group in this country, accounting for over 18% of the total population. But our healthcare system is filled with inequalities for Latino patients. Language barriers, a lack of systematic trust, and access issues exist because we have failed to design our healthcare system around the unique identities and needs of this multicultural demographic.
We watched our families get dismissed in the exam room and heard stories of struggling to find a trusted source of care. The mission of Zócalo Health was born in those moments of frustration and confusion. We developed a vision of a company that would prioritize trusting relationships between patient and provider and simplify appointment access at an affordable, accessible price point. So Zócalo Health was founded in 2021, because our community deserved better.
The path to bring Zócalo Health to life wasn’t simple. As Latino founders, we face unique odds. Only 2% of overall startup investment supports Latino-founded businesses, and those odds only get slimmer for companies with a woman on board. Plus, health companies and organizations in the US tend to lack diversity at the top. Founders and entrepreneurs with our background are severely underfunded and often go unsupported in their ventures. Despite years of experience scaling and building other healthcare products and brands, we heard “no” far more often than we heard “yes” when we sought funding.
Zócalo Health wasn’t incubated in Silicon Valley. It started like so many of our childhood memories do – around the dinner table and in our communities. We met with people who needed our services and met with doctors and nurses that shared our vision. With relentless commitment , we were able to raise $5 million from investors that were aligned with our mission and ready to support the launch of Zócalo Health.
This Hispanic Heritage Month, we seek to raise awareness, recognition, and understanding of the healthcare inequalities and outcomes across the Latino community. We have a lot of work to do, but it starts with one patient at a time. With each patient, we can start to create a new kind of healthcare system and – importantly – start the movement toward strengthening the Latino voice. A strong Latino voice proudly carries our roots at the center, holding our family values, our respect for others, and our gratitude for those who paved the way close to our hearts. Together, with our community, we can change the narrative around Latino health. We can improve the outcomes and increase the workforce. We can increase access and improve quality. And we can come together as a community to eat, laugh, and dance in celebration of our health.
But we must start somewhere. We start with Zócalo Health.
Zócalo Health is now available in California, Texas, and Washington. To learn more about how Zócalo is blending innovation and tradition to provide culturally competent care, visit zocalo.health