At an age ripe for retirement, Carlos Naranjo remains hard at work on a mission to help the local Latino population get the health care they need. For his efforts in the community, Naranjo is one of eight honorees to receive the BlueCross BlueShield Angel Award during a ceremony held Monday (Oct. 14).
Carlos Naranjo, seen here with a patient, is a recipient of the 2013 Angel Award presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)
Naranjo is a case manager and interpreter for the Hispanic Outreach Initiative of the New Orleans Children’s Health Project
where he caters to low-income Spanish-speaking families.
His days are spent connecting families to the doctors and nurses aboard the health project’s mobile medical clinic, which offers medical, mental health, case management and health education services to more than 1,000 children annually.
The health project, established in 2006 as partnership between Tulane University and the Children’s Health Fund, implemented its Hispanic Health Initiative in 2008 — the same year Naranjo came on board.
“I had already retired when this position opened, but I saw it as another opportunity to touch people’s lives,” says Naranjo, who worked for 30 years as a caseworker and then supervisor for the Louisiana Office of Community Services. “This is what I love to do. I love being there for people in need.”
Dr. Delaney Gracy, chief medical officer of the Children’s Health Fund, says Naranjo’s dedication to the Hispanic Initiative has been instrumental in its success.
“Even the best thought-out program often needs a singular, passionate advocate on the ground who is willing to put in the work to make it happen,” Gracy says.
The Angel Award was created to increase awareness about children’s needs and provide the resources required to help them. Naranjo’s recognition also comes with a $20,000 grant to the New Orleans Children’s Health Project.