New Lawrence clinic tailors health care to Spanish-speaking community members

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When Natalia Leistner saw a need for local medical options that cater to Spanish-speaking community members, she took action.

She and her team opened CASA Medical in Lawrence in February, providing affordable health care to Spanish-speaking people and families. Patients can receive a variety of services — from checkups and physicals to women’s care and assistance with chronic disease management — with no medical insurance required. In fact, the clinic doesn’t accept insurance.

Leistner, who is the founder and CEO, said she noticed the Hispanic population seemed to be growing in Lawrence and in surrounding areas, but cultural representation through health care was not growing at the same rate.

“There really weren’t a lot of resources, especially around health care, for the community — resources that would be able to provide high-quality care, especially in their own language,” Leistner said. “We feel like that’s so important when you need to go access health care to be able to communicate freely what your concerns are regarding your medical conditions and available treatment plans and so forth.”

Originally from Uruguay, Leistner moved to the United States in 1998 as a teenager and then attended the University of Kansas. She later graduated with a master’s degree and earned her APRN license. Her 20 years of experience in the health care field, specifically in the areas of emergency department, family practice and clinical studies with an emphasis on COVID-19 vaccines, led her to open her own practice this year.

CASA Medical offers health care for children ages 2 and up through adults. Leistner said the clinic is open to all Lawrence community members as well as patients in De Soto, Topeka and Bonner Springs.

CASA Medical staff members are focused on preventive care, and Leistner said it’s vital to catch concerns before it’s too late.

“We feel that if we’re helping our patients be healthy and working with preventive and screening measures, that we are helping the health care community avoid unnecessary E.R. visits,” Leistner said. 

“Tragic events, they could be prevented by screenings. That is something that not only the Hispanic population but also the uninsured population struggles with because they will often access care only when they really have to and they’re feeling really sick and something is not going right,” she said. “They’re really not doing the screenings and preventive things, like perhaps near talking about prostate exams and things like that.”

After being in Lawrence for 25 years now, Leistner said she and her family truly consider the college town home, and CASA Medical has fit right in.

“We feel very fortunate and feel very welcome to the community here, and it’s not only the patient community that has really embraced us but also the medical community in Lawrence has been very welcoming,” Leistner said. “So we have had very easy access to specialists working with us to see our patients in a timely fashion, working with accessibility to getting to them, and we just feel very fortunate that we’ve been embraced by the community.”

CASA Medical is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1410 Kasold Drive in Lawrence. Learn more about the clinic on its website, casamedical.org, which is translated in both Spanish and English, and contact 785-423-6611 with questions.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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