Why I created Zócalo Health

Like many first-generation Mexican Americans, I have a story that is filled with struggle, perseverance, and triumph. I was born and raised in southeast Houston to parents who worked multiple jobs in an effort to give their children a life in the United States filled with opportunity and experiences. My most vivid memories as a child were accompanying my parents to their jobs to help them either translate to their bosses or navigate confusing situations. For my siblings it was common and expected to help our family navigate the world in which they were trying to succeed. I never knew a life where people were not working from dawn until dusk and always finding ways to work a little harder and be a little better.  

As I grew older and started my education, I continued to be the navigator for my family.  I helped my dad navigate a Key map to help him find addresses to deliver suitcases left behind by travelers at Hobby airport. I would attend doctor appointments with my mom to translate symptoms and care plans. My aunts, uncles and my cousins would come to me with questions about finances and career opportunities. I quickly became the anchor that gave hope that, as a family, we could navigate this confusing world. 

This trust and confidence that my family held in me propelled me to take chances in my career. I navigated my way through jobs in healthcare and taught myself how the complicated healthcare system in the US worked. With my personal success, I found myself working for companies that were pushing the boundaries of innovation and implementing services that made healthcare convenient — but it was for a select few. 

With that convenience for a select few, I couldn’t stop seeing the disparity between that experience and my own childhood experience helping my family navigate the healthcare system. I remembered how distraught and frustrated they would feel that their voices and beliefs were never heard in the exam room. I remembered the countless stories my families and friends would tell me about their healthcare experience and how lost they felt trying to navigate where to get care and how to afford it: it was too complicated. As I reflected on their experience and what I was building, I felt like I had finally arrived at the opportunity to do something, at scale, for my family and my community.

I created Zócalo Health. 

Zócalo Health was founded on the belief that innovation and tradition can and must coexist. Latinos in America, over 62 million, are a unique community, connected through language, common experiences in this country, unique immigrant struggles and success stories. Despite the growth and vibrancy of this community, we lack a healthcare system that is designed around our stories and identity. When choosing the name for this company I envisioned an experience where people sat around the dinner table or town square sharing their healthcare struggles and successes and getting connected to the community or the “friend of a friend that is a doctor”. Zócalo, the common name of the main square in central Mexico City, aptly describes the community and experience I seek to deliver. 

Zócalo Health exists to strengthen the health and wellbeing of the Latino community by eliminating barriers to accessing healthcare services. We acknowledge that health outcomes in our community continue to worsen and that our community feels unheard and unseen. We are committed to changing that experience. 

While our stories and our pasts are unique, our immense desire to progress and achieve the American Dream unite us as one community. We have much to do to strengthen our community, to make health and wellness accessible not only in language but in culture, and to navigate this complicated world together.

The team at Zócalo Health is working hard to launch our experience to you later in 2022 but in the meantime, we want to hear from you, our community.

How has your past shaped who you are today?

How have you helped your own family navigate the US healthcare system?  

How do we work together to have a unified voice that advocates for culturally relevant physical and mental healthcare services? 

I am eager to have this discussion with you.