John M. Glionna / Kaiser Health News

Long before he owned two clinics and had people looking up to him, he was a boy picking fruit  in the fields with his parents instead of enjoying the freedom of summertime. He knew how it felt to not have anything, not even the money to seek medical help.

LA Times photo

That’s why, when Dr. J. Luis Bautista reached medical school, he promised himself that he’d never turn away farmworkers just because they didn’t have money.

He’s kept that promise, since most of the 30,000 annual office visits in his Fresno, California clinics happen to be farmworkers. Many are undocumented and don’t have insurance or money. For them, getting yearly exams or preventative medical care was not an option.

John M. Glionna / Kaiser Health News

Dr. Bautista’s start in life, as one of 10 siblings in a poor family of laborers, led him to create a sanctuary for immigrants. In his clinics, patients don’t have to fear federal immigration authorities. In fact, the staff has steps in place in the event the offices are raided by la migra.

We never say no to patients,’ he says. He’s used the old world barter system, and some patients have paid him with onions, crafts they’ve made, eggs and even live chickens!

This compassionate physician also created Bautista Foundation, a nonprofit to help low-income farm families with food, clothing and scholarships so their kids can attend college.

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

The world is much brighter with Dr. Bautista in it, especially for our farmworkers!