Naco Wellness Initiative collaborates with healthcare systems on both sides of the border. NWI’s two Casa Saludable (Health Home) Clinics are staffed by volunteer clinicians and paid Promotoras.
The Promotoras are trusted, trained community members who provide public health education and basic care while respecting and embracing local values and culture. Their training comes from the Mexican government’s rural health program and from the faculty of Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.
At NWI, Promotora services extend beyond day-to-day medical healthcare and treatment to include community gardening, food distribution, health education, exercise classes, and social enterprise development.
History of Our Clinics
Created in 2004 by people with ties to Bisbee and Phoenix, the Naco Wellness Initiative started offering monthly medical screening clinics at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Naco, AZ, to bring healthcare professionals, equipment, and supplies to underserved residents with limited resources in Naco, AZ, and Naco, Sonora.
The Borderlands have long needed better healthcare help, especially on the Mexican side where residents must drive two to five hours for anything more than basic care. Diabetes is an epidemic in Naco, Sonora, with 70 percent of residents, including children, living with diabetes or prediabetes. Sixty percent of residents suffer from cardiovascular, hypertension, asthma, tuberculosis, COPD, emphysema, obesity, and/or other chronic diseases.
ESTABLISHED IN 2004,
Naco Wellness Initiative provides medical and wellness services to benefit the minds and bodies of people with limited resources in Ambos Naco.
As border crossings became stricter, many Naco, Sonora, residents were blocked from Naco, AZ. NWI began a partnership with Centro de Salud Naco, the Mexican government’s rural clinic in Naco, to continue offering screenings and other aid there. NWI was instrumental in getting the clinic an ultrasound machine and dental chair.
When the rural clinic couldn’t keep up with patient numbers, residents asked NWI to open its first Mexican clinic to help families with chronic health issues and encourage healthy lifestyles. “We’ve grown organically since then, working alongside people as they recognize their needs, then getting everybody involved in helping,” said NWI Founder and Executive Director Tom Carlson.
Today, NWI’s two clinics, in the Barrio Nuevo and Colosio neighborhoods, receive 11,000 total visits a year, serving a population that is 50 percent senior citizens, 30 percent children, and 20 percent 20- to 40-somethings. Paid staff are aided by dozens of volunteers.
Both clinics are community centers offering prevention and treatment services, including first aid/wound care 24/7; daily drop-in blood pressure and blood sugar readings; Zumba and other exercise classes; individual and family diabetes and chronic illness prevention/management workshops; a variety of nutrition/wellbeing classes; medical equipment loans; physical, massage, and mobility therapy; and weekly Escuelita (fun little school) gatherings for children ages 3 to 12.
At the 2,000-square foot Barrio Nuevo Clinic, built in 2017, expanded services include cooking classes in the kitchen; a weekly Senior Citizens Program featuring modest exercise and healthy lunch; women’s health, and prenatal and postpartum seminars; periodic eye and dental screenings; and community first aid instruction and CPR training and certification.
Naco Wellness efforts are having a significant impact:
- Adults with diabetes are experiencing lower sugar counts in blood tests, a result of supported wellness activities and healthier eating habits.
- Children, particularly those involved with school gardens, are experiencing improved development, alertness, and performance in schools.
- Fewer senior citizens report being hungry or lonely. Many are eating better overall and have a greater interest in remaining active and productive.
Want to Help?
You can help NWI make a difference in so many ways. Our clinic operating funds come from donations; one-time or monthly donations are a true gift. We also welcome endowments from stock donations.
We accept new medical supplies and gently used medical equipment; also sealed over-the-counter medicine and vitamins donations. If you can write grants or know of a foundation that can support us, we need your help. If you can teach medical or wellbeing workshops, or you are or know medical professionals interested in providing short-term services in our clinics, please contact NWI.