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Sometimes life takes us to the place where we belong in unexpected ways.  In 2012,  Elide Marquez Romero was working for No Boundaries, a company that provides interpreters and translation services to businesses in Chester County and the surrounding area.  One day her supervisor asked her to fill in for another interpreter at ChesPenn’s Coatesville office.  She continued to substitute at Coatesville off and on for three years until Dr. Rekha Yagnik, ChesPenn’s Medical Director, asked to have her assigned to our Eastside health center in Chester full time.  Elide found the work of giving patients a voice – as she puts it, “letting them borrow me to express their needs, worries, and fears” – to be challenging and fulfilling.  She shared the story of a woman who had recently arrived from Africa and only spoke French.  While she’s not fluent in French, Elide was able to communicate enough to help her and her child.  The woman broke down in tears because someone could finally help her child, who had been sick for months.

Elide became an integral member of the Eastside team.  She attended meetings and trainings side by side with ChesPenn employees.  In 2019 when we began working to develop more trauma-informed practices, she was one of the first to sign on as a Trauma Champion so she could be a part of that process.  As an interpreter, Elide was able to observe every aspect of the operation of the site – she was at the front desk and in exam rooms with patients and their providers.  And the more involved she became, the more passion she felt for the work.  In 2020, when we were seeking a new Office Manager for Eastside, she was the obvious choice.  In 2022, she was promoted to Senior Office Manager and then Director of Operations.

Elide had previous experience as a manager but found quickly that managing a health center brought unique challenges.  “Susan (Susan Harris McGovern, ChesPenn’s CEO) gave me a lot of support.  I started on February 24 and a week later the pandemic started.  I think the most important role for the Office Manager is to make sure every part of the clinic runs as smoothly as possible so we can take care of the patients and the staff both.  Being able to anticipate what might come up is key.”

As Director of Operations, Elide has expanded her approach to ensure that every site runs smoothly while building a culture of teamwork across the sites.  It can be hard to create that feeling of unity across multiple sites in a large organization, but she sees it as essential to the wellbeing of both staff and patients.  Drawing on her interest in trauma-informed organizations, she is well aware that patient wellbeing is directly related to the staff’s sense of working in a safe, high-functioning environment.  Consistency and a spirit of unity foster that feeling of wellbeing for everyone.   Her philosophy is “We are not Coatesville, we are not Upper Darby, we are not Chester – we are ChesPenn.”



Melissa Hernandez, BSN, with Marshai Harding, Medical Assistant

Read any article on the place of nurses in healthcare and you’ll see them described as the backbone, heart, or foundation of healthcare.  Nurses play a critical role in the provision of care – they provide direct care, they teach, they advocate, and they often serve as care coordinators for their patients.  Nationally, we are experiencing a critical shortage of nurses, and ChesPenn is extremely fortunate to have a team of truly gifted and dedicated nurses.  In May we celebrate National Nurses’ Week, and we thought this would be a good time to introduce the newest member of our nursing team, Melissa Hernandez.

On Friday, April 14, ChesPenn welcomed the community to share in the launch of the Reach Out and Read Program at our Center for Family Health at Coatesville in memory of ChesPenn Chief Medical Officer Dr. Letitia O’Kicki’s mother Theresa G. Caroff.  Dr. Trude Haecker, Reach Out and Read Philadelphia Medical Director, spoke passionately about the benefits of reading to children beginning in infancy.

This month we have a bonus introduction – ChesPenn’s newest Behavioral Health Consultant (BHC) Jamie Merwin.  The addition of behavioral healthcare to our primary care model is one of our proudest accomplishments.  Our ability to address patients’ mental health needs immediately in-house is so important to their well-being and during National Mental Health Month we are especially excited to introduce Jamie Merwin, LCSW, who has joined the team at the Center for Family Health at Eastside.

Mention the name John Phillips to a fan of high school basketball in Philadelphia, and you’ll get a knowing smile.  John is a legend in the Inter-Academic, or Inter-Ac, League.  For 21 years, the Episcopal Academy alumnus held the scoring record in the league with 2,075 career points.  After high school, he went on to college and later became Assistant Principal of Philadelphia’s Crossroads Accelerated Academy.

In 2015 John passed out at work and after being rushed to the hospital he learned that he had type 2 diabetes. John was shocked.  He wasn’t overweight, and aside from a love of fruit juice his nutritional choices were reasonably healthy.  What he didn’t know was that Black adults are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as white adults.

Diabetes can be stealthy.  Many patients have no symptoms, or their symptoms may be so minor they assume they’re unimportant – until they become truly ill.  When John was seen in the emergency room his blood sugar level was 600mg/dl – more than six times the normal level – pushing him into a diabetic coma.

Before his health crisis, John had avoided seeing the doctor for the most part. He hadn’t had a physical or any lab tests since his high school days. Mistrust of the medical profession is common in the Black community and not without reason.  Studies show far too many instances of undertreatment of Black patients for pain and of disregard for the physical and emotional toll of racism, community violence, and poverty experienced by many Black people.  One consequence of this troubled relationship is that too often Black men, women, and even children experience poor health outcomes that could be avoided.

In 2017, Yvonda Romeo came to ChesPenn’s Upper Darby office as a temporary patient service representative.  She had served in other medical offices in similar roles but had never worked in a community health center.  She was surprised by the flexibility and responsiveness to patient needs.    She learned that we accommodated walk-in patients as much as possible and charged no fee for cancellations.  She liked what she saw and when an opportunity to apply to work for ChesPenn directly arose she took it.  She learned the ins and outs of patient services and impressed ChesPenn’s leadership with her dedication and skill.  In 2021 she was promoted to Office Manager.

Yvonda has piloted the Upper Darby staff through the sometimes choppy waters of the pandemic with kindness and patience.  She facilitates the working relationship between the ChesPenn staff and the Crozer Family Medicine preceptors and residents who provide care at the site.  Perhaps most importantly, she sets a warm tone that welcomes the very diverse patient community that counts on us for care.  And it is truly a community.  Many of our patients come from the neighborhoods surrounding our little office on State Road.

April is National Minority Health Month and this year’s theme is Better Health Through Better Understanding.  The Office of Minority Health is advocating for improving health literacy in minority patients, supporting patients whose first language is not English, and understanding the importance of providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS).

It’s important to know that improving health literacy isn’t about placing expectations on patients, but about improving our ability to communicate in ways that are easy for our patients to understand and will encourage them to engage with us.  Some important topics we’ll be talking about in the coming month include:

  • Improving health literacy.  Approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population has proficient health literacy. Improving health literacy is about providing written information, including forms for patients to complete, in simple, easy to understand language, and in multiple languages where needed.  It’s also about taking medical jargon out of conversations with patients, listening to their questions and concerns, and confirming their understanding.  Patients equipped with information they understand can make better decisions about their wellness.
  • The importance of quality interpretation services.  Nearly 20 percent of people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. Robust interpretation services, in person and/or via telephone and video interpretation, remove barriers to good communication between patients and providers.

  • Ensuring inclusion and cultural sensitivity among our staff.  Over 60 percent of racial and ethnic minority patients over the age of 18 believe it is at least somewhat important to visit a health care provider who shares or understands their culture. Training is key, but we are also very proud that we have attracted a highly diverse team of healthcare providers and support staff who reflect our patients’ diversity.

We will be continuing our conversation about diversity, health equity, and including through National Minority health Month and beyond into the coming year.  Stay tuned!


Candid, previously known as Guidestar, has for many years provided important information about nonprofit organizations to help foundations and individuals evaluate the organizations they are interested in supporting.  Candid has developed a series of transparency seals that reflect the amount of information provided by the organization.  We recently attained Gold Transparency status by sharing our financials as well as information about our organization’s leadership staff and Board of Directors.

Our commitment to our patients and supporters is to provide as much information as possible to assist in making informed decisions about choosing ChesPenn as a healthcare home or recipient of financial support.

Friday, June 9, 2023
1:30 – 3:30 pm
Center for Family Health at Eastside
125 E. 9th Street
Chester, PA 19013

Please join us as we dedicate the building that houses our
Center for Family Health
at Eastside  to the memory of ChesPenn’s
founding physician 
and advocate for children’s health Dr. Rekha Yagnik.

For more information contact Tamara Fox:


Center for Family Health at Eastside
125 E. 9th Street
Chester PA, 19013
Medical Phone: 610-872-6131
Dental Phone: 610-874-6231

Center for Family Health at Coatesville
744 East Lincoln Highway
Suite 110
Coatesville, PA 19320
Medical Phone: 610-380-4660
Dental Phone: 610-383-3888

Center for Family Health at Upper Darby
5 South State Road
Upper Darby, PA 19082
Phone: 610-352-6585


1510 Chester Pike,
Suite 200
Eddystone, PA 19022

Phone: 610-485-3800
Fax: 610-485-4221
FTCA Seal 5.3.22

Copyright by ChesPenn 2023. All rights reserved.