Jennifer Genuardi is a seemingly endangered species: a primary care doctor in an impoverished New York neighborhood.
When she takes the subway from the upper East Side and steps out into Hunts Point, she emerges as one of just two physicians working fulltime at the Bella Vista Health Center and thus just one of two in the entire, high-poverty 10474 zip code (pop.: 12,281).
Bella Vista is the lone health care facility in Hunts Point, and it’s what’s known as a federally qualified health center, dealing mostly with the working poor and uninsured.
She and three assistants conduct more than 1,000 medical visits monthly in an austere seven-room, 1,800-square-foot facility. Predominantly Latino patients come to her with the most basic ailments and needs: hypertension, asthma, obesity, checkups for a newborn, refilling medications, depression, mental illness, diabetes, pap screens, mammograms, high cholesterol and a large number of cavities.
Many have not seen a doctor in years and, if they didn’t have Bella Vista, part of the nonprofit Urban Health Plan, they’d have to drive 15 minutes, or take two buses, to the nearest emergency room and wait hours for more expensive care. For as little as $15 a visit, it’s way more efficient to see Genuardi, 35.