Hillside Health Center Welcomes New Medical Provider, Damara Luce

September 2019

MCHC Health Centers is pleased to announce the arrival of Damara Luce, PA-C, a bilingual (English and Spanish) physician assistant who will work closely with Dr. Mario Espindola and Paul Hupp, PA-C. Becoming a physician assistant is a second career for Luce, but one that is consistent with her history of helping the underserved.

After college, Luce became an Americorps volunteer in Immokalee, Florida, where she spent a year teaching young children of migrant farmworkers and facilitating parent education. This experience lead to a 15-year career as a community organizer and campaigner for the Alliance for Fair Food and Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW) where Luce helped farmworkers improve wages and working conditions. She was instrumental in establishing the Fair Food Program to monitor and enforce human rights for more than 100,000 farmworkers, described as “the best workplace monitoring program in the U.S.” by the New York Times.

For personal reasons, Luce moved to the East Bay about ten years ago where she continued working on CIW’s national campaigns until she changed careers to become a physician assistant. Physician assistants (PAs) are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. Luce completed Stanford University’s physician assistant program and then worked at Lifelong Medical Care, a community health center in Berkeley.

In her work as a PA, Luce is committed to caring for the whole patient. She said, “I understand some of the unique challenges migrant farmworkers face. When I cared for patients at a community health center in San Pablo, I saw people who not only had repetitive motion injuries from working in the field, but who also suffered from anxiety, insomnia, and other problems related to the stress of their work and their living circumstances.”

She is pleased to join MCHC Health Centers because of the organization’s mission and its approach to healthcare. “MCHC has a team of people who care for each patient—medical providers, counselors, health educators, dentists, case managers and more. We all care for patients together, with the patient at the center,” she explained.

She continued, “You have to know what’s going on with people to provide good care. In addition to the reason they came to see me, I want to understand what my patient’s role is at home, at work. Are they worried about paying their bills? About their children’s problems at school? All these factors affect their health.”

Luce said she collaborates with patients to create treatment plans that make sense in the context of their lives. “It doesn’t do patients any good for me to recommend treatments they can’t or won’t do. Instead, we come up with a plan together,” she said. She enjoys educating patients about their health and empowering them to reach their health and wellness goals.

MCHC Health Centers provides comprehensive health services including primary medical care, pediatrics, dentistry, women’s health, obstetrical care, counseling, psychiatry, and specialty care, and looks forward to growing to meet the ever-expanding needs of the communities it serves. MCHC Health Centers includes Hillside Health Center and Dora Street Health Center in Ukiah, Little Lake Health Center in Willits and Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport.

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