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Dr. Martha Rivera, pediatrician at White Memorial featured in EGP article “Latinos ideas about quality healthcare.”

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Dr. Martha Rivera, a pediatrician who sees young adults at Optimal Healthcare Center in Boyle Heights, said family interaction is an important part of achieving a better health balance for youth who suffer from anxiety, and may self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

“I do integrated medicine, which includes prevention and nutrition and many of my patients walk out without prescriptions,” Rivera said. “Instead, I tell them to avoid medical marijuana or more and more medicine,” the doctor explained. “I teach them relaxation [techniques] to avoid chemical imbalances. We are getting back to basics.”

Rivera said most of the 35-40 patients she sees a day are under 21: on Oct. 1, she will open a new office where she will see more adults.

“I mostly see patients with Medi-Cal, who pay out of their pocket for the cost of medicine when they get prescriptions, like Tylenol. They pay with cash. They find out it’s better to do that than to go to McDonald’s,” Rivera said about her effort to change their way of thinking. “Most find Obamacare very confusing,” she said, but “want to find out how it works.”

Obesity rates among young Latinos is high, which puts them at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, the doctor said.

Rivera, whose clinic is within the White Memorial Medical Center complex, said she recently started a series of health classes to encourage Latino parents to vaccinate their offspring early and to improve nutrition and preventive care among youth and adults.

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