Dr. Denise Nuñez opened her new urgent care center in November. She is the first Latina to open such a facility in the state of New York.
Nuñez doesn't want to focus on shattering glass ceilings. Instead, she says, her goal is to make Bronx residents healthier. There are many urgent cares in, New York but she says the borough is underserved.
“I’m the only intensivist that has an urgent care so that’s why the rooms are created as an ICU model," said Dr. Denise Nuñez.
Her training as a Pediatric Intensivist, a doctor trained to treat critically ill patients, sets her apart because she can offer Emergency Room style care without the long wait-times and high costs, barriers her patients often grapple with. Many of them are immigrants who don't have access to or afraid to seek healthcare.
“The parents of my babies, of my patients, most of them don’t have documents, don’t have doctors, and don’t see anybody,” added the doctor.
Nuñez should know. Since 2010, she has operated the Divino Nino Pediatrics clinic on Fordham Road. Before that, she worked in several Emergency departments throughout the Bronx. Dr. Nunez was born in the U.S. but moved to the Dominican Republic as a child. After completing college there, she decided to come back to the states to pursue medicine.
“I didn’t have the money to come back so I remember just coming literally with a little bit of clothes and my towel and my pillow. And I slept on the floor for about 2-to-3 months,” she said.
Dr. Nuñez recalls when one of her professors made her feel unwelcome. But that didn't keep her from pursuing her dreams.
“He saw me and he said: what are you doing here? And I said, I want to become a doctor here and he said go back to your country again. And I said I was born here. He said go back to your country, you don’t belong here," said Dr. Nuñez.
She stayed, thrived and expanded beyond medicine. Last year, Dr. Nuñez started a non-profit to help local students with their homework, college admission applications and to teach their parents English. All while tending to her husband and two children.
Like her clinic, the urgent care center is also in the Belmont section of the Bronx.