Born in San Salvador, El Salvador, Dr. Iveth Sandoval came to the United States when she was only 5 years old, calling Bakersfield her new home.
Sandoval, a naturalized American, went to Bakersfield College, graduated from UC Riverside in 2006 and completed medical school at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara Facultad de Medicina in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. She will be practicing family medicine in her home town later this summer.
Sandoval was one of the two doctors in the inaugural Valley Health Team family medicine residency program graduation ceremony and celebration held June 14 at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Building.
“We are honored to be here today with our graduates, chief resident Dr. Archana Bangalore, and Dr. Iveth Sandoval,” said Soyla A. Reyna-Griffin, chief executive officer of Valley Health Team and designated institutional official of the VHT Family Medicine Residency Program of the Class of 2019.
“We are also excited to be here with their families and friends, esteemed members of our community, Valley Health Team staff and leadership, Family Medicine Residency Program faculty and staff, and with many people and organizations which have helped to make our graduate medical education program not just a vision, but a success.”
Reyna-Griffin said Bangalore and Sandoval’s hard work, perseverance and achievement were “an inspiration to our next generation of physicians.”
“I look forward to what their careers have in store for them, and for our community,” Reyna-Griffin said.
Since Sandoval’s goal was to practice medicine in the Valley closer to home, she said this residency program was her top choice.
“I wanted to stay in the Valley helping the community I always worked with,” Sandoval said. “And Fresno is not too far from home.”
Sandoval, who is bilingual, has always wanted to help those with language barriers to feel more comfortable when seeing a doctor in their own language.
“I like taking care of people, I like giving back to the community,” Sandoval said of practicing family medicine in communities like Shafter and Delano.
The residency program is one of 59 teaching health centers in the country established by the Health Resources Services Administration to support residency programs in community-based ambulatory patient care settings such as Valley Health Team, a federally qualified health center.
If you had told Reyna-Griffin four years ago that her organization would be graduating medical residents within just a few years, she wouldn’t have call you crazy but would have said that was a random comment.
How Valley Health Team became involved in graduate medical education
According to Reyna-Griffin, in 2013, Fresno Health Communities Access Program partnered with Clínica Sierra Vista in Fresno to establish the Sierra Vista Family Medicine Residency Program. In 2015, the two organizations parted ways effective June 30, 2016, leaving in doubt the future of the residency program.
“Knowing that these doctors’ future were at risk, our chief medical officer was adamant that we had to pull out the stops to preserve their graduate medical education,” said Reyna-Griffin. “Knowing that the best way to keep doctors in the Valley is to train doctors in the Valley, our board of directors and leadership took on the challenge of bringing graduate medical education to Valley Health Team.”
Valley Health Team received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) as a sponsoring institution on Oct. 21, 2016.
“From there, we had to work out funding, create and implement policies and procedures, obtain site approval, receive accreditation for our Family Medicine Residency Program and begin training our inaugural class all before July 1, 2017,” Reyna-Griffin said during the ceremony. “The most exciting part, and the part which brings us here today, we were able to transfer over the PGY-1 residents from the Sierra Vista Family Medicine Residency Program.”
Bangalore Sandoval began their residencies at the Sierra Vista Family Medicine Residency Program.
“We are honored that they are graduating today from the Valley Health Team Family Medicine Residency Program,” Reyna-Griffin said, adding that the mission of the residency program is to train and graduate skilled family medicine providers who are committed to the underserved and vulnerable and will serve those communities in the San Joaquín Valley.
“Our program emphasizes interdisciplinary medicine and patient-centered, culturally competent care,” Reyna-Griffin said. “This complements the mission of Valley Health Team, which is to provide accessible, comprehensive, and quality health care in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner regardless of patient’s ability to pay.”
The Valley faces a serious shortage of healthcare providers including primary care.
“Recruiting physicians to serve patients in the Central Valley is tough. Recruiting physicians to serve some of the most underserved people in our nation makes the job even tougher,” Reyna-Griffin said. “But, I have always said that what we do is God’s work. And it is my belief that God’s hand has been upon us every step of the way as we continue to serve our community and our patients.”
Reyna-Griffin said the residency program would not be here today if not for the generous support of organizations like CalViva Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Health Net, in addition to OSHPD, the Office of Statewide Health, Planning and Development, which distributes Song Brown Grant Funding, and the Health Resources Services Administration THC GME Program, which is the main source of funding for their residency program.
“When we knew that we would be launching the Valley Health Team Family Medicine Residency Program, we knew one of the big obstacles that we would face was start-up funding,” Reyna-Griffin said, adding that she sent out letters to several organizations seeking support. “And was truly humbled by the responses from CalViva, Kaiser, and Health Net.”
Because of their support, and because of their ongoing commitment to the residency program, Reyna-Griffin honored those organizations as their 2019 Valley Health Team Family Medicine Residency Program Champions.