At Non-Profit Clinic and Community Events, an Acclaimed Doctor Tackles Health Inequities One Patient at a Time

Dr. Ligia Peralta’s welcoming fashion engrosses youngster during a family members useful resource reasonable at Wheaton Shopping mall. All through the pandemic, Peralta has been a part of state and community attempts to hook up Marylanders with vaccinations and plan major health and fitness care. Photo by Rosanne Skirble.

On a recent Saturday, Dr. Ligia Peralta took her health clinic to Wheaton Shopping mall. She used the early morning providing COVID-19 vaccinations and dispensing health care advice together with group businesses and neighborhood companies at the District 18 Spouse and children Resource Truthful.

When charming a minor boy with stickers and lollipops, she obtained his mom to indication him up for a free check-up at Casa Ruben, her non-earnings health care office off the Capital Beltway around White Oak.

“We prepare children to go to university, and focus in adolescents and those people disengaged from treatment,” Peralta claimed.

Peralta and her brother Ruben, also a health care provider, established Casa Ruben in 2003. Their mission is to provide an underserved group, with quite a few ineligible for wellbeing care support because they are undocumented immigrants.

With a team of 10 — like a receptionist, health-related assistants, case administrators, and a law firm — the small clinic, on the 2nd floor of a two-story making holds office environment several hours 5 days a 7 days.

“At periods it is like an urgent care crisis room,” she explained, noting that previously that working day she experienced now stabilized a affected individual with acute bronchial asthma, a youth with a damaged leg, and offered tests needed for school packages.

For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peralta has been a component of point out and area attempts to hook up Marylanders with vaccinations and regimen primary well being treatment.

But very little has been routine about Peralta’s lifestyle or her get the job done in the clinical subject.

First lessons in health and fitness care in rural countryside

Developing up in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, Peralta and Ruben followed their father, a surgeon and regional clinic director, into distant mountainous areas carrying medical materials and vaccines for the inadequate.

“This was an early lesson in the great importance of key care,” she explained.

Soon after graduating healthcare school, a fellowship took Peralta to Switzerland to review pharmacology, then to the University of Connecticut and Yale for a residency in pediatrics, and eventually to the College of Maryland, exactly where she specialized in adolescent wellness, soaring to come to be main of the division of adolescence and youthful grownup medication, and director of the Adolescent HIV Plan at the College of Maryland University of Drugs.

Among the her honors is the Latinos of Distinction Award conferred by the Meals and Drug Administration and the White Household in 2000, moreover induction into Maryland Condition Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011 “for her endeavours to stem the HIV epidemic amid young persons.”

As a clinician-scientist, Peralta’s exploration on adoption of non-invasive and fast screening for HIV and threat of acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections led to dozens of qualified articles or blog posts, ebook chapters and federal procedure suggestions.

Peralta also was the initially Hispanic doctor to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in President Obama’s second expression, which in 2015 declared an bold nationwide approach.

Casa Ruben, gateway to most important treatment

Peralta describes Casa Ruben as a gateway to major care.

“What we do is open up the door to the overall health treatment technique,” she explained.

During place of work several hours, Casa Ruben serves a non-stop move of sufferers, no matter of no matter whether they can pay out. Picture by Rosanne Skirble.

Peralta often directs her clients who will need further therapy to Federally Qualified Overall health Facilities, community clinics that receive federal funds and are required to serve all, regardless of immigration position or the potential to pay.

Maryland is property to 17 FQHCs with 129 satellite sites across the point out.

“They are held to a federal regular [and] present a selection of incredibly extensive services” explained Sharon Zalewski, Govt Director of the Regional Primary Treatment Coalition, a non-income that promotes overall health equity in the D.C. region. “The intention is to get people into a health care household, in which they produce a romantic relationship with a provider, and in which they are witnessed continuously for preventive expert services, as perfectly as acute ailment.”

This system, with much less folks utilizing medical center crisis rooms for persistent ailments that could be much better managed by a primary treatment health care provider, also lowers the community’s stress to protect these bills.

Zalewski provides that healthcare disparities are tied to inequities in education, the financial state and housing.

“A healthy population makes wholesome communities and healthier economies,” she mentioned.

That is what guides Peralta’s perform serving communities in want like her father.

Obtaining stepped absent from her positions at the University of Maryland Clinical School, Peralta divides her time concerning Casa Ruben and study she commenced in 2014 as a Sloan fellow in Innovation and World Leadership at MIT. There she centered on well being economics, which she reported can enable plan makers optimize assets for accessibility to wellbeing companies.

“My lens when functioning with economists is searching at places in medication that could provide as a platform to break this inequity in health care,” she said.


At the height of the pandemic, Peralta reported info on delays in regime vaccines amongst immigrant little ones moved her to ramp up vaccinations, efforts that led to 7,000 childhood immunizations at educational facilities, churches, parks and second-hand retailers.

Recognizing disparities in specified zip codes, the Montgomery County Council appropriated $450,000 this spring to Casa Ruben for a cellular pediatric clinic, a grant matched by the Robert I. Schattner Foundation.

Workers on board will offer regimen health-related tests for college enrollment, vaccinations, and link kids with detailed major treatment around wherever they stay.

“With this motor vehicle, health care expert services can arrive at numerous,” mentioned Tania Perez-Fuentes, an educator with Montgomery County Public Educational facilities, who testified at the hearing in assistance of the grant.

“This is particularly the sort of most effective apply that we have to maintain and we have to broaden,” claimed Councilmember Nancy Navarro (D), who championed the evaluate.

Peralta claimed Casa Ruben honors her mothers and fathers, who although living below concern of retribution by Dominican Republic’s infamous dictator Rafael Trujillo, ongoing to operate to serve people a lot less lucky, bridging the inequities lifestyle provides.

“My moms and dads encourage me,” she stated. “I are living by their values each day.”