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Senator Gordon Smith Joins Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center and Pfizer to Honor a Community Caregiver

National Health Center Week 2008 Dedicated to Good Health through Health Care Heroes

Pfizer Patient Assistance Program Distributed More than $1.5 Million Worth of Free Medicines to Nearly 5,600 Patients of Oregon's Community Health Centers Last Year

HILLSBORO, Ore., Aug. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (OR) will present the "Health Care Heroes" Award at Oregon's key National Health Center Week event, to be held today at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center's Hillsboro clinic. Senator Smith and Virginia Garcia will be joined by Pfizer Inc. at a ceremony to honor Maria Loredo, Chief Operations Officer of Virginia Garcia, for her dedication to improving community access to preventive care and disease management services.

For more than 30 years at Virginia Garcia, Ms. Loredo has been committed to the uninsured, underserved and low-income residents of Western Washington and Yamhill Counties. A former farm worker herself, Ms. Loredo has a unique understanding of the need to make health care accessible to those who need it most.

"Maria Loredo's unparalleled dedication to the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center is essential to the organization," said Gil Munoz, CEO of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center. "As the Hillsboro and surrounding area grows, and the health care needs of our community grow with it, I am proud that we have people like Maria who are so committed to our mission."

The ceremony, to be held at the Virginia Garcia Hillsboro clinic, is one of hundreds of events at community health centers across the country from August 10 through 16. National Health Center Week focuses America's attention on the vital but often underappreciated role that health care professionals, policymakers and volunteers play in their communities. Health centers have a significant impact on our national health care system, saving between $9.9 billion and $17.6 billion each year by helping patients avoid emergency rooms and make better use of preventive services.

"Maria Loredo's inspiring journey and lifetime of service is an inspiration to us all," said Senator Gordon Smith. "I commend Maria and the staff of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center for providing quality, accessible health care for over 30 years to Washington and Yamhill County's uninsured and most vulnerable."

With 665,000 Oregonians living without health coverage, rising health insurance premiums and an increasing number of employers limiting health benefits, more and more people are turning to community health services for care. With the help of companies like Pfizer, Community Health Centers are able to provide care for those who would otherwise go without.

Pfizer supports Community Health Centers like Virginia Garcia through one of its patient assistance programs, called Sharing the Care(TM), which was launched in 1993 to make Pfizer medicines available for free to eligible health center patients. Through Sharing the Care, Pfizer partners with more than 450 health centers in 49 states. In just the past five years, Pfizer has provided nearly 9.6 million prescriptions, valued at more than $780 million, to more than 2.4 million community health center patients.

The event will take place at 3:00 p.m. at Virginia Garcia's clinic, located at 226 SE 8th Ave., Hillsboro, Oregon. For more information, please visit, or contact Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center at or call 503-359-8518.

"Pfizer is dedicated to supporting community service organizations that improve access to quality health care. We are fortunate to have partners in this mission, like Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center - a fixture of Hillsboro's health care community - and Senator Gordon Smith, who has persisted in his efforts to improve the health of the citizens of Oregon," said Gary Pelletier, director of Pfizer Helpful Answers(R). "Today, we recognize just one of Oregon's many health care heroes, a representative of the deep commitment made by Community Health Centers to improve the health of Oregon's most vulnerable residents."

About Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center

Since 1975, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center has worked toward the vision that no one in Washington and Yamhill Counties lacks basic health care. The clinic was founded to honor the life and death of six-year old Virginia Garcia, who sustained a treatable foot wound while working in the fields with her migrant farm worker parents. Although attempts were made to treat her, the unavailability of cultural, economic and language-appropriate medical services ultimately led to her death. While retaining its key mission of meeting the needs of migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center now serves people from many cultural, linguistic, and vocational backgrounds. With clinics in Beaverton, Cornelius, Hillsboro, Tigard and McMinnville, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center is dedicated to providing accessible, high-quality, culturally appropriate health care to low-income and uninsured residents of Washington and Yamhill counties. In the coming fiscal year, the center will provide primary health care, prenatal and obstetric care, dental services, and health education to approximately 30,000 individuals.

About the National Association of Community Health Centers

Founded in 1970, NACHC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance and expand access to quality, community-responsive health care for America's medically underserved and uninsured. In serving its mission, NACHC represents the nation's network of over 1,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) which serve 17 million people through 6,300 sites located in all of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

About Pfizer Sharing the Care

Pfizer Sharing the Care(TM) is part of Pfizer Helpful Answers(R), a family of programs that helps people without prescription coverage save on many Pfizer medicines, no matter their age or income. People with limited income may even qualify to get their Pfizer medicine for free. Consumers without prescription drug coverage who need a Pfizer medicine can call the Pfizer Helpful Answers toll-free number, 1-866-706-2400, or visit the Web site, Pfizer Helpful Answers is a joint program of Pfizer Inc and the Pfizer Patient Assistance Foundation(TM).

SOURCE Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
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