A native of Brazil, Aziana Gomez arrived here 16 years ago speaking only her native language, Portuguese; she did not know where to turn for even the most basic necessities. Now, as the outreach manager for the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center (SVCHC), she helps people facing those same kinds of challenges.
As trustworthy confidant to her clients, Gomez loves to provide support to people by guiding them to resources for medical needs and beyond. It starts with being a good listener.
“The most important thing is to provide support with a big smile and try to do the best you can by sharing kindness with the clients,” Gomez said. “Sometimes our community members just need someone to talk to and I love to listen to them.”
Gomez worked her way up to her management position from her first role at the center, filing chart paperwork. In many young clients she sees some of herself 16 years ago: a difficulty understanding the language, requiring assistance with basic life needs, not all of which are medically related. Many of her clients require assistance in paperwork, including navigating the CalFresh program.
“After 10 years of conducting outreach efforts for the Health Center, Ms. Gomez has built a rapport with her clients that has spread throughout the community,” said CEO Cheryl Johnson. “By working her way up to Outreach Manager from her first role filing chart paperwork, she has come to understand that building a trusting, nurturing relationship with her clients is ultimately what allows her to assist them effectively.”
Clients now come from as far as Marin seeking Aziana’s assistance, Johnson said.
The center is the largest provider of primary medical services to Medi-Cal, low income, and uninsured patients in Sonoma Valley.
In addition to Gomez, there are four outreach staff members. The team partners with local agencies such as La Luz, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, as well as El Verano and Flowery elementary schools. Immunization clinics, health fairs and community events allow the outreach team to take their message and assistance out into Sonoma Valley.
Photo caption: The Sonoma Valley Community Health Center Outreach Team, from left: Liz Guzman; Kathleen Bianchi-Rossi, SVCHC development director; Aziana Gomez, Maria Elena Gil, and Catalina Chavez-Tapia.
The team is looking forward to the opening of the new SVCHC facility where the expanded space will the launch new community programs, and the ability to bring others in house, such as parenting classes and peer support groups.
Construction continues on the new facility, on Highway 12 across from Maxwell Village Shopping Center, scheduled to open in July.