When Maile Cortez and her husband moved to Arcata ten years ago, they worried about how to manage their significant medical concerns. They saw Humboldt Open Door Clinic (HODC), walked through the front door and found the right place. The respect and care that the Cortez’ received convinced Maile that they had found their home. “The care here is tailored to meet our needs. The clinic staff has gone out of its way to be sure patient needs are met; we feel like we are a part of our own medical team.” Maile feels that there is a family-like relationship with their health care provider. When Maile’s husband, who has multiple and complex medical conditions, found himself in an out-of-state hospital, his medical provider at HODC immediately made sure that the hospital was aware of all of his needs. According to Maile, “We couldn’t have asked for better care and attention.”


Bill Sullivan spent years as an EMT, firefighter, and construction worker. Now, walking with the aid of two canes, Bill doesn’t allow his physical limitations to isolate him. He volunteers and remains active in the community,recognizable for his warm smile, trademark cowboy hat and big heart. “I like being part of things, including my own health care.” He too found that HODC far surpassed his expectations. “I know hard work. I see it at HODC all the time. And when my provider takes the extra time to make follow-up calls and check in with me at the end of a long day, I feel respected.” Bill says that this sense of respect is something unmatched in his previous health care experiences. “This isn’t a ‘free’ clinic, it’s a caring clinic.”

When Maile Cortez saw an invitation for the HODC Patient Advisory Group, she jumped at a chance to give back to the clinic that had provided so much for her family. Bill Sullivan and five others joined Maile. “The Patient Advisory Group provides our perspective as patients. We comment on almost every aspect of the clinic. I know the staff listens. I’ve seen the changes,” says Maile. The Advisory Group also works to help empower other patients. Bill is proud that their work at HODC “has spurred other Open Door clinics to follow our lead.”

Bill believes that when the atmosphere is respectful and relaxed, there is a feeling of safety. Patients have a better understanding of their illness, wellness and how to better oneself. Whether in the examination room or the conference room, Bill knows his voice will be heard, “Providers here listen. They want to understand health care from the patients’ perspectives.”