A Leader Among Leaders

By Aurora Saldivar
Coachella Unincorporated

Of the many heroes and heroines of the “Flying Doctors” on Saturday, September 24 at Coachella Valley High School, organizer Lucy Moreno clearly stood out. You could easily say she worked all the magic behind the scenes but it would be inappropriate, considering her constant and vibrant presence throughout the event.

Walkie-Talkie in hand, Moreno was constantly in motion, making her rounds to all the stations to ensure a smooth and constant flow to the day’s events, solving any and all problems that arose along the way. I remember that after a brief pause for water her phone had already accumulated almost a dozen missed calls with voice mails undoubtedly filled with questions and inquiries.

“She never stops!,” exclaimed Judith Cox, CEO of the Regional Access Project Foundation and one of the event’s sponsors. “She worked for me a few years,” continued Cox beaming, “She is absolutely amazing. If you need it done all you have to say is Lucy, and it’s done.” The Regional Access Project was responsible for most of the event’s funding. Lucy wrote a grant for $14,000 dollars. “My board jumped at the opportunity,” Cox said, adding that the money went mainly toward purchasing equipment and food. “Everybody that comes gets a lunch,” says Lucy. It just goes to show that it took far more than sterilized needles to make this event possible. Moreno says that it takes a good 3-4 months to plan and facilitate an event of this magnitude.

I was not the only one keeping up a brisk pace along Moreno’s footsteps. Yolanda Esquivel, of Riverside, was also shadowing the event to learn how best to facilitate an event of her own at Riverside Community College on October 22. She came to the Coachella Valley seeking help and Lucy graciously obliged. “Last year I got in touch with Lucy to ask how to start an event and she got me in contact with Flying Doctors,” Esquivel said.

Watching her in action was like seeing the director of a battle field hospital in a warzone deal with quick, on-the-spot conflicts that arise. “Without a plan everything would fall apart,” said Juan Gonzales, a senior at Coachella Valley High School who was volunteering with the Health Academy. “Things change by the minute,” Moreno said. “And that’s where the on-your-feet thinking has to kick in,” added Gonzales. One improvement organizers noticed was work at the Triage Center. “We should have had a bull horn,” a volunteer commented, adding, “triage was something new this year. Maybe we’ll try again with more practice, communication and starting earlier. Trial and error is inevitable and a game plan is essential.” As Lucy would say, “We learn from our mistakes.”

But good thing there were more successes than mistakes at the “Flying Doctors” event in the Coachella Valley… Successes that led thousands of under and uninsured East Valley residents to get top-notch, free health services.

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