Strength & Advocacy - HSNT Board Member spotlight

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When it comes to providing a perspective on the care received at a health center, there’s nobody quite like the patients themselves. When Belinda Hernandez first came to Health Services of North Texas as a patient in 2020, she was reeling from an unexpected HIV diagnosis.

“I was just completely shocked, you know,” Belinda said. “I wasn’t doing any risky behavior, didn’t have any of the risk factors…I was just shocked.”

Belinda’s first visit at HSNT was with Dr. Arlene Hudson at HSNT’s health center in Denton, and her experience with Dr. Hudson’s reassuring bedside manner and her personal approach to care left an impression on Belinda. In April 2020, Belinda shared her story with HSNT, detailing her experience as a patient and how HSNT had given her confidence back – and shortly after that she was approached with an opportunity.

“[HSNT CEO] Doreen Rue reached out to me offering me an opportunity to serve on the board because of my expressed desire to advocate for healthcare with positivity and passion,” Belinda says. “Of course, as a current patient with HSNT, I can share my personal ongoing experience with the comprehensive medical care, essential support services and medication support.”

Not only is she bringing her perspective as a patient to the HSNT Board of Directors, but Belinda also has healthcare experience, as well. She has 25 years’ worth of experience in the medical field, which is invaluable to a board like HSNT’s. Even so, Belinda feels like her desire to act as an advocate is the most important thing she will bring to the table.

“There’s a stigma that comes along with HIV, and as a heterosexual female I believe ignorance plays a huge role in that stigma. I would not be alive today if not for healthcare providers that truly stand by their invaluable moral guide. HSNT rolled out the red carpet for me and made me feel like they are there just for me, literally saving my life.”

Belinda’s goal as an HSNT Board member is to spread awareness about the quality of care that HSNT provides, and she hopes to continue expanding her own knowledge and sharing it with the community.