It was a desire to have their own private practice and bring much-needed collaborative services to Belen, a small town of 7,400 about 30 miles south of Albuquerque.
Jennifer Tafoya-Trujillo, M.S., PA-C, who grew up in Belen, and Cassandra Otero, PA-C, who grew up in Los Lunas, both were in family practice for more than 15 years, spending much of that time as a physician’s assistants. After working together for more than three years in the same practice, the Valencia County residents said they wanted to have their own approach to family medicine.
With the help of The Loan Fund, the two created Valencia Health and Wellness, which specializes in women’s health, immunizations, depression, anxiety, acupuncture, physical therapy and weight loss. With two other partners, Jennifer and Cassandra, have a goal of teaching patients how to obtain true wellness by promoting preventative care and good lifestyle choices to improve overall physical health and mental well-being.
“We’re a small, underserved area and we’re glad we offer things that others would have to drive to Albuquerque for,” says Jennifer.
The clinic opened just before the start of COVID-19 in 2020 and the pair had to creatively run their practice by using visiting patients via video or telemedicine. The two also had to learn how to run a business, from filing to preparing taxes to obtaining insurance.
The two also had help through the New Mexico Small Business Development Center network to get started and “that’s how we got connected to The Loan Fund,” says Jennifer. “We went to talk to banks and most banks turned us down. We’re forever thankful for The Loan Fund. They have been amazing through all of this.”