Pharmacist Orlando Vega and his 7-year-old patient Yazmin, a type 1 diabetic, have something in common. Their parents brought them from Cuba to the U.S. to improve their chance to live healthy normal lives. Grateful for the opportunity, Orlando now serves his Cuban community in Hialeah, Florida, with professionalism and an abundance of compassion — even making house calls.
“Orlando being a pharmacist from Cuba is very special,” says Lester Diaz, pharmacy district leader, who notes that cultural and language barriers can often be daunting for immigrants. “The Hispanic population needs a Spanish-speaking pharmacist, and this connection is so unique.”
At the Navarro store, where Orlando is a pharmacist, most patients and customers are Spanish speaking. Many are newly arrived from Cuba and are starting a new life. This was true for Yazmin’s family. They made the difficult decision to move to the Miami area when they couldn’t get the supplies they needed for Yazmin’s diabetes, including test strips to read her glucose.
“We had to have my aunt send them from the United States to Cuba. That’s how bad the situation became. That’s one of the reasons we left the country,” explains Yarelis Gomez, Yazmin’s mom.
Yarelis was so grateful not only for the medical care her daughter received but for the relationship that developed with her pharmacist Orlando. “He’s helped us so much by finding better technology for Yazmin to do blood tests. He reached out to the doctor and to our insurance provider to make this happen. And, when I asked him to come to our house when we were having trouble learning about the phone and new insulin pump, that’s when he and Yazmin bonded,” she adds.
“When I first met Yazmin, she had to prick her finger five or six times a day. She doesn’t have to do that anymore. Now she has a pump and a sensor that tells her how the blood glucose is,” explains Orlando. “Helping with this kind of technology, this is something that we, as pharmacists, can do. And I know, Yazmin is going to grow up to have a much more normal life. A wonderful life.”
October is National Pharmacists Month. This month, and every month, we thank you, Orlando, for being a true hero to your patients in the Hispanic community.