After finishing her family medicine residency at Vecino’s Denver Harbor Family Clinic, Dr. Tamayo returns as a staff physician to the clinic that “feels like home.”

For Dr. Irma Tamayo, Vecino’s newest family medicine physician, Vecino’s Denver Harbor Family Health Center feels like the place she was always meant to be.

“When I first learned about the clinic as a medical student, it was through a video tour to help us choose residency programs,” says Dr. Tamayo. “Even from the video, I knew I could see myself working here.”

This first impression led Dr. Tamayo to Houston Methodist for her residency program after medical school. She was placed at Vecino’s Denver Harbor Family Health Center through the program for her three-year residency.

“There is such a sense of community here,” she says of the clinic. “It feels like home.”

After finishing her residency in June, Dr. Tamayo returned in the fall, this time as an attending physician. It is a homecoming welcomed by staff and patients alike.

“Patients really appreciate Dr. Tamayo’s ability to understand what they are going through and the time she takes explaining their medical issues,” says Vecino’s CEO Daniel Montez. “She is a great fit for Vecino’s Denver Harbor Family Clinic.”

Tamayo relates to patients as a first-generation immigrants and native Spanish speaker.

Dr. Tamayo finds it easy to relate to many of the experiences faced by Vecino patients. The first-generation immigrant and native Spanish speaker is one of four children raised in the Rio Grande Valley by a single working mother.

“The first time I left the valley was as an undergrad. It was a culture shock even though I was still in Texas,” says Dr. Tamayo.

Dr. Tamayo was exposed to the possibility of a medical career at an early age because two of her uncles were doctors in Mexico. When she or her brothers got sick, her mother took them over the border to one of their clinics. She remembers sitting and playing with the medical tools as a child.

Also, during her childhood, Dr. Tamayo’s maternal grandmother died from a heart attack at just 59. This experience, more than any other, compelled her to enter medicine.

“I saw how my grandmother’s death affected my family, and I knew I wanted to prevent other people from feeling that pain,” says Dr. Tamayo.

This personal commitment is a hallmark of her approach to patient care.

“I like the fact that in family medicine, I get to see the mom, the grandma, the baby, and get to know the whole family,” says Dr. Tamayo. “I take the time to explain everything and help them understand their medical care.”

Patients appreciate Vecino’s “small-town, relationship-based approach” to healthcare.

Dr. Tamayo completed a rotation at a rural family clinic during medical school. “There was only one doctor for the whole town, so he knew everyone and did everything.”

This small-town, relationship-based approach to medicine suited her, and it solidified her decision to pursue a career in family medicine. Working at Vecino’s Denver Harbor Family Clinic, she sees many similarities to this approach, and it is one of the aspects she loves most about her job.

Many working families and uninsured patients at Denver Harbor Family Clinic can’t realistically attend specialist appointments outside the clinic or pay for expensive tests and labs. Because of this, says Dr. Tamayo, she and her colleagues operate much like small-town doctors.

“We provide a lot of services, including screenings and tests, right here at the clinic. We meet patients where they are and serve their health care needs in a way that really works for them.”

Dr. Irma Tamayo