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Jayhawk opens CASA Medical clinic for Hispanic community

From a young age, Natalia Leistner knew she wanted to work in healthcare. Today, Leistner’s career has led her to open CASA Medical, a clinic with a mission to provide high-quality healthcare with no insurance required to the Lawrence region’s Hispanic community.

Originally from Uruguay, Leistner, n’05 g’09, made Lawrence her home in 1998. Leistner’s journey in healthcare began at the age of 12 when her grandmother’s battle with hemiplegia exposed her to the impact of healthcare professionals. After job shadowing a doctor in a local emergency department through Lawrence High School, Leistner’s career decision was secured. 

Leistner attended the University of Kansas for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, valuing staying close to her family and the excellent nursing program. During her time at KU, she found invaluable guidance from an advisor, Cynthia Majher, who not only helped Leistner plan her education but continues to support her in mentoring future Nurse Practitioner students who now find inspiration at CASA Medical.

After graduation, Leistner worked in various healthcare settings in the Kansas City area, gaining a deeper understanding of the Hispanic community’s needs. With the Hispanic population growing and the healthcare resources for minorities limited, Liestner struck out on her own. In February 2023, CASA Medical opened its doors.

In her experience as a healthcare provider, Leistner noted how much patients receiving health care services in their preferred language makes a difference.

“Anything from receiving education regarding their condition to discussing their treatment plan options,” says Leistner. “Their whole plan of care. When it was provided in Spanish, it had significant positive outcomes. But when it wasn’t, it was the opposite.”

“We often encountered a lot of concerns regarding medication errors, unnecessary return visits and negative outcomes that came from not understanding what their condition was and if there was a cure versus a treatment plan available. It showed how important it was for those patients to receive healthcare in Spanish.”

CASA Medical serves patients in their preferred language, and is also unique in that it does not accept insurance. From the start, offering medical care to those without insurance coverage was part of Leistner’s plan.

“I always had a passion for enhancing and promoting healthcare accessibility,” says Leistner. “And for a great part of the Hispanic community, insurance may not be an option.”

“I wanted my patients to be the leader of their health care, to be able to make the decisions of what treatment plan they wanted. It should be their choice on what fits them best at that point in their life.”

CASA Medical’s services are available to all of Lawrence and surrounding areas like De Soto, Olathe and Topeka. While the clinic was designed and focused on the Hispanic population and those without insurance, it welcomes individuals of all backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity or insurance status, who believe this healthcare method applies to them and their needs.

Getting the word out about CASA Medical has proven to be a challenge. Leistner is the only full-time employee, so providing personalized, quality care leading to word of mouth has proven to be the most successful way to grow. 

“We try to go above and beyond with our services,” says Leistner. “It’s not just seeing the patient for their illness visit, it’s assisting them in making referral appointments, or helping fill out forms for their specialist appointments.”

“One of the great rewards has been patients referring other patients and saying great things about the care that they have received here. It has been truly rewarding to care for different generations in the same family.”

With CASA Medical approaching a year in business, Leistner’s reflections show how her passion for healthcare accessibility drove her to make the leap and open the clinic.

“This initiative has been in my mind for a long time,” says Leistner. “There was always something that makes you fearful of the outcome, and sometimes we encounter struggles when opening a new business. But what I learned is that we have the strength to do it and the rewards are great.”

Lesitner’s story shines through in her work. Her passion for accessible medical care reflects itself in CASA Medical’s mission: To provide quality healthcare for all, regardless of background or insurance status. 

Our Jayhawks Give Back program is presented in partnership with Andrew Wymore, Senior Realtor with ReeceNichols.

Jayhawks Give Back celebrates ’Hawks who are making a difference in ways big and small. Each quarter, we’ll feature a member of the KU family and their story. If you know a Jayhawk who should be featured in Jayhawks Give Back, let us know!

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