Dr. Denise Nuñez, Divino Niño Pediatrics

Dr. Denise Nunez is the Medical Director of Divino Niño, a small pediatric practice recognized as a Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home, located in the Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood. Divino Niño’s mission is to provide our community with efficient, professional and excellent quality health services.

As a pediatric intensivist, Dr. Denise Nuñez has seen too many children land in the ICU who could have been treated well beforehand. All too often, issues like language barriers, miscommunication of medical information, and lack of follow-up appointments would allow children’s health issues to spiral out of control.

Dr. Nuñez searched for a model that would to address these issues by providing team-based, patient-focused care in a primary care setting. She soon found that the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model provided a step-by-step guide to providing the high quality care she envisioned. Fundamentally, she says, “PCMH and care quality come together.”

In Patient Centered Medical Homes, teams of healthcare professionals work together to increase patient access, empower patients to manage their own health, and connect patients to necessary medical, behavioral health, and social services. In 2011, Dr. Nunez founded Divino Nino Pediatrics based on this model.

“To make sure nothing falls through the cracks,” as Dr. Nuñez puts it, Divino Niño’s staff is guided by detailed systems designed to improve communication and collaboration. “Everyone has different hats they put on,” she explains. In addition, she says, “All patients get real access to us. Real access.” At least one clinician is on call at all times, and patients will soon be able to visit Divino Niño on select Saturdays.

The Divino Niño staff also goes to great lengths to not only treat patients, but to make families feel comfortable, supported, and empowered. “We treat patients like our own children,” she says.

Despite the benefits of PCMH, Dr. Nuñez has to work hard to keep the practice up-to-date with PCMH’s evolving standards and requirements. She admits that this can be challenging. “You need people and you need resources,” she says. “I didn’t always have that.”

She does, however, have a team that embraces a culture of teamwork and improvement, and that is willing to make the adjustments that make patient care better. “When we grow, we grow together,” Dr. Nuñez says.

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(Published January 25, 2016)