“When I was younger, I wished I could blend in with everyone else,” said Ivorry Gomez, DNP, FNP-BC, family nurse practitioner, with a shy smile. “My friends had blonde hair and blue eyes.
“But now, I see the blessings the Lord had for me. Working here at Healing Hands Vickery I can blend in with the patients I serve. I don’t look drastically different from them – we match – our eye color and skin tone. We can easily connect. I’ve come to realize that I am here for ‘such a time as this.’ He (the Lord) opened my eyes.
“I can also relate to my patients and their struggles as refugees. In 1986, at the age of four, my mother and I fled Nicaragua following civil unrest. We sought asylum in the United States, with hopes to join my grandparents and father. After flying to Mexico, we came across the border on foot. I don’t remember it, but a man carried me on his back. We were trying to get to Port Arthur, but ended up in a detention center in Brownsville.
“We finally connected with family in Port Arthur, where I grew up. We were a community of immigrants and we were around people who helped immigrants. In 1989, just two years after coming here, my mother became a U.S. citizen. I was always so proud of her. I received my citizenship when I turned 18. Our family lived the American dream. My father became an electrician. My mother was a certified nurse assistant, I became a nurse, one sister became a teacher and another sister a social worker.
“I find myself having flashbacks of my childhood through my patients. Here at Healing Hands Vickery, we serve a large refugee population who come here with just the clothes on their backs. The things I now take for granted, our patients don’t.
“My education was something I didn’t take for granted and I worked hard to receive a full scholarship to Lamar University where I received my BSN. I became an obstetrics nurse and loved taking care of people. Then I got connected in my church and became very involved in mission trips, which was another eye-opener. I realized the need to do more.
“I heard the Lord’s call to pursue my nurse practitioner’s degree. Because of Baylor’s School of Nursing commitment to global health, I went to Africa and India with Baylor. I found myself being more proactive for change and felt the need to have a doctorate so I could have a place at the table to speak on behalf of patients and for patient care.
“In 2013, after nine years of nursing school in all, I received my doctorate and had the opportunity to take classes at Johns Hopkins. I became captivated by public health.
“I thought I would be serving at a refugee camp oversees, but that door had closed. Looking back, it’s kind of amazing. I knew Dr. Berry and had heard of Vickery and Healing Hands. Together, with Dr. Berry and Janna, conversations about a Vickery clinic started. I kept thinking about the future and what that looked like.
“In October 2014, after much prayer, I transitioned from private practice to Healing Hands. I had just bought a house and wondered if it was financially feasible, but God has made a way.
“When I walked through the door at Healing Hands Vickery this summer, I was so grateful for Janna for doing the hard part during the last several years to get the clinic off the ground. All I had to do was show up. So many people have been praying about this for such a long time and I’m so excited for our patients. They can have a medical home within walking distance for them.
“Our patients are time-consuming and it can be overwhelming at times, but they are learning that we will reach for them, fight for them and care for them well. And I am reminded that God will take care of me.”
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Read more about the opening of HHM – Vickery in the Advocate story