10 Things About Mrs. Carmen Martinez & San Ysidro Health


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If I can do it, you can do it too!

Mrs. Carmen Martinez is San Ysidro Health’s last surviving Founding Mother. While working full-time and caring for her 7 children, she, and other women in similar circumstances, developed a plan of action to bring much needed healthcare to their community. 53 years later, Mrs. Martinez could not imagine the legacy she built and the lives she influenced. Her story is a beautiful and inspiring one.

#1 I have 7 children and 21 grandchildren who have garnered 21 degrees ranging from Biological Anthropology to a Master’s in Environmental Management.


#2 I recently received an honorary degree from Southwestern College at 98 years young! It means a lot as I do not have a formal education but value education tremendously. It is one of the few things that no one can take away from you!


#3 I just celebrated my 99th Birthday and received County and Federal proclamations exclaiming September 25, 2022 as Carmen Martinez Day in San Diego County.


#4 San Ysidro Health was founded by seven women and I am one of them. In 1969, three of us found our way to Dr. Ruth Covell’s office to advocate for the need for health services in the San Ysidro community. At the time, healthcare services in our area were scarce and nearly unattainable. Later that year, San Ysidro Health opened in a little white house, La Casita, with only 3 rooms and 4 dedicated volunteers.


#5 The mission of San Ysidro Health is to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve with access for all.

#6 The first doctor I interviewed stayed with us for 49 years and would have stayed longer if she had not passed away.


#7 San Ysidro Health has evolved from a small clinic located along the border into one of San Diego’s largest and most well-respected nonprofit community health providers. Today, the organization has 50 clinics and program sites throughout the county, providing innovative medical, dental, behavioral health and specialty care services to nearly 110,000 patients.


#8 San Ysidro Health is now providing care and support services in North County and Rural East County.


#9 Our National City Health and San Diego PACE Center is a new state-of-the-art 40,000 square foot healthcare facility designed to holistically connect families, especially seniors and children with health services, affordable housing, transportation, and community engagement in the heart of National City, scheduled to open in 2024.


#10 “El Zapatón” (The Big Shoe Give-Away in Spanish) Shoes for Wellness Fair was created to help children ages 5-17 have access to critical wellness screenings, immunizations, and a new pair of shoes as well as other vital services and essentials.

San Ysidro Health
“El Zapatón”
December 3 & 10 2022
8 am – 1 pm
San Ysidro, El Cajon and Campo