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How this Fort Worth woman found medical help for patients during pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lorena Montalvo made sure that people needing medical care who couldn’t see a doctor would get the care they needed. She scrambled to arrange prescription refills and telemedicine visits.

Montalvo is the administrative coordinator at the Mercy Clinic of Fort Worth, a nonprofit that provides free dental and medical care to people who don’t have health insurance in the 76110 ZIP code.

“We didn’t want to just close down and not provide our services,” Montalvo said.

“I take phone calls, translate for our providers and make sure our patients get their refills,” she said.

Peggy Leitch, the clinic’s executive director, nominated Montalvo for recognition in the Star-Telegram’s Hometown Heroes series because of her tireless efforts to help people during the pandemic. She praised her calm demeanor and attention to detail.

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“Lorena is an indispensable employee,” Leitch said. “She has an abiding love of our community.”

Hometown Heroes is sponsored by Lockheed Martin, which is providing $1,000 each to the 28 people selected by the Star-Telegram to be featured in the weekly series.

When Montalvo started volunteering at the clinic, Leitch said it was apparent that Montalvo was dedicated to helping people with their medical needs.

She was offered a part-time position, which turned into a full-time job, Leitch said.

Montalvo’s organization skills and attention to detail were invaluable when Mercy Clinic and the CVS Health Foundation formed a partnership to provide free rapid COVID testing for low-income residents.

Montalvo oversees volunteers who scheduled over 6,000 COVID tests since mid-June and she also coordinated vaccinations for children going back to school. The clinic will also provide flu shots, and the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available, Leitch said.

Sherry Maddox, who has been a nurse for almost 50 years, now oversees nurses who volunteer their time at the clinic.

“Lorena is the heart of the clinic,” Maddox said.

“When I say that she is the heart of the clinic, that is an understatement.”

Maddox described Montalvo as intelligent and diplomatic and added that she is doing several jobs — coordinating volunteers, translating at the clinic and organizing COVID tests.

Rebekah Naylor, chairman of the clinic’s board of directors, said Montalvo cares deeply about the people who come to the clinic.

“Lorena does everything with a smile. She is very loyal and committed to the clinic and to her work,” Naylor said.

Mercy Clinic of Fort Worth, which began as a project of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, opened seven and a half years ago to serve the predominantly Hispanic community in the 76110 ZIP code who do not have health insurance.

Asked how she started working at the clinic, Montalvo said she came to the United States from Mexico when she was 10.

She attended Travis Avenue Baptist where she got involved in community ministries.

When the clinic first opened, Montalvo started as a volunteer but was soon hired as the administrative coordinator.

Montalvo said her goal is to help patients get the medical and dental care they need.

“I saw the need. We have patients who are 40 years old who have never seen a dentist. They are hard-working people who put themselves behind everyone else. Their goal is to have food for their kids, and their health comes last because of finances,” Montalvo said.

“We tell them, ‘You take care of your family, we will take care of you medically and spiritually,’” she said.

Montalvo said she is grateful that she could help patients during the pandemic.

She described a phone call from a woman whose husband was in the hospital, dying from the illness.

Montalvo said she was able to get the woman’s information, and she was able to see her husband.

“It’s sad to see how COVID has affected people,” she said.

To nominate a hometown hero

To nominate someone to be featured in the Hometown Heroes series, go to star-telegram.com/nominate.

With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.
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