When Buffalo Medical Group primary care physician Dr. Jesenia Cruz first started practicing in Buffalo, NY, word quickly spread that there was a Hispanic doctor available to help. In the years that followed, Dr. Cruz has built a reputation for her support of geriatric Hispanic/Latinx patients, using her own background as a Hispanic doctor to better serve her patients. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, agilon health sat down with Dr. Cruz to learn more about how value-based care benefits her community.
Q: Tell us about yourself – how long have you been practicing in Buffalo, NY?
A: I’m originally from the Bronx but attended medical school at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. I did my residency training here, too, on the west side of Buffalo where there is a large Hispanic population. Throughout my twenty-plus years as a primary care physician in Buffalo, I’ve been privileged to serve many members of my community, including seniors. Right now, I have nearly 100 Hispanic patients in my care and more than 460 senior patients.
Q: How does being from the same community benefit your Hispanic patients?
A: Being able to speak Spanish and understand Hispanic culture can make a big difference for my patients. I like to communicate their medical care in the language my patients are most familiar with – this is especially important for my geriatric patients. Seniors are most likely to have held on to their language and to appreciate I can speak it. I see a lot of chronic health conditions in my geriatric Hispanic patients, diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These require dietary adjustments and it’s helpful that I understand how difficult it can be to limit their favorite traditional dishes. I empathize with how important food is to their culture.
Q: How has value-based care served your senior patients?
A: Our goal is the best quality care for patients. We’re transforming our approach by moving away from the standard model of healthcare, where there can be too many cooks in the kitchen. In value-based care, as the primary care physician, I’m the main chef. Specialists and others involved in my patients’ care are the sous chefs. This way, I’m always at the center, working on behalf of their total health and ensuring the right decisions are made for them. In addition, value-based care keeps me involved. I can use my strong patient relationships to advocate for their health and break down barriers, such as translating the advice of other doctors into Spanish or asking questions on their behalf.
Q: And how has value-based care benefited your practice?
A: The partnership with agilon health helps us provide coordinated, value-based care that improves outcomes for our senior patients. It has opened our eyes to how we can identify potential gaps in care. From the robust agilon health tech platform that has improved our operations, to the ideas we gain from collaborating with like-minded primary care physicians in the network, we can provide a better experience for our patients – one built on total care.