Health center inspires boy to become a nurse
A Commerce City boy who beat cancer four years ago credits the nonprofit health organization that first caught his tumor for his newfound aspirations to become a nurse.
Dominic Miranda is a quiet 17-yearold boy with gauges in his ears who would rather talk about skateboarding than the fact that he battled Ewing’s sarcoma in the sixth grade.
Miranda and his mother, Bianca Trujillo, walked into the Kids First Health Care Center at 4675 E. 69th Ave. on Tuesday and exhaled.
“It all happened here,” Trujillo said. “It’s a little overwhelming.”
The center, along with its four school locations in Adams 14 school district and a Westminster building, serves people from birth to age 21 who could not otherwise afford health care.
Trujillo didn’t have insurance and started bringing Miranda to the center around 12 years ago for things like the common cold and fevers.
“It’s a place where you feel very, very comfortable,” she said.
Her 8-year-old daughter, Nylah Miranda, was born prematurely and taken care of with the help of Kids First, as well. Trujillo’s 14-year-old son Christopher Miranda refuses to see any other doctors than the ones he has grown up knowing.
“They’re just happy when they come here,” Trujillo said.
When Dominic woke up with a lump on his foot in December 2010, Trujillo knew who to turn to. After a tense appointment at the health care center and a referral to Children’s Hospital Colorado, Trujillo and her family were crushed to find out her oldest son had bone cancer.
The physicians from Kids First came to Children’s Hospital after the diagnosis, offering their condolences, care packages and support that lasted for years.
The unconditional comfort and medical assistance from the nonprofit has inspired Dominic to become a nurse.
“The people here are kind and generous,” Dominic said. “I love it here. They inspired me to do better, and I think nursing would be a part of my nature now.”
Years after the visit that changed her family’s life forever, Trujillo still has the personal numbers of staff at Kids First programmed into her phone. She calls the doctors and nurses she has come to know so well when she is scared, confused or just in need of a friendly voice on the other end of the line.
“Imagine if I would have never known this place,” she said. “These people were the only people I had — the only people my family had — during those tough times.”
Because of the school-based health clinics at Adams City High School, Lester Arnold High School, Adams City Middle School and Kearney Middle School, staff from Kids First continue to check up on the Miranda kids during their school days.
The health center also has a location at the Gregory Hill Early Childhood Center in Westminster.
The school-based care centers allow kids to get treatment without missing a chunk of their academic day and without parents who may already be struggling to take time off work, said Kids First Health Care executive director Norma Portnoy.
With an average of 2.5 visits per year for each patient, Portnoy said the cost to Kids First Health Care of providing visits for one year is $418 per child. The agency brings in about $255 per child per year from insurance and patient payments, leaving a gap of $163 per child per year that has to be brought in through fundraising.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to see on a daily basis the positive impact we have on children’s lives,” Portnoy said. “I get a chance to see how gratified our families are.”
Bianca Trujillo talks Tuesday about her experience dealing with her son Dominic’s bone cancer at Kids First Health Care in Commerce City. Brent Lewis, The Denver Post