Tu vecino – Orlando Vanegas, Clínica Médicos

Our Chattanooga area is home to many awesome Spanish-speakers. In our Tu vecino blog, we highlight some of our incredible Spanish-speaking neighbors!

This month, Teo and Emi visited Conga Latin Restaurant with Orlando Vanegas. Learn more below about him, his experience as a Guatemalan immigrant, and his work with Clínica Médicos!

¿Qué hace? What does he do?

Orlando is the lab manager at Clínica Médicos. He manages a team of medical assistants that serve the health needs of many Latinos in our Chattanooga community.

Many of our neighbors face barriers that keep them from getting the basic healthcare they need. Orlando is proud of his team’s work to remove those barriers for their patients. Besides having staff members that can communicate with patients in Spanish, their team helps connect our Chattanooga neighbors with charitable organizations and government agencies that provide funding for the care that they need. Thanks to Clínica Médicos, many families have access to vaccinations, prenatal care, and regular checkups that they wouldn’t have otherwise received.

¿Cuáles son sus metas profesionales? What are his professional goals? 

Orlando has a degree in biochemistry and plans to continue applying his knowledge through work in family medicine and pediatrics. He started his career a few years ago as a medical assistant at Clínica Médicos. In the future, he hopes to further his professional skills by becoming a Physician Assistant, or possibly even a doctor. Orlando immigrated to the US from Guatemala when he was 12 and grew up in a Spanish-speaking household. He had studied English in school in Guatemala, but had to really work on real-life English when he arrived. Now, his experience and Spanish ability allow him to offer care and support to other immigrants and Spanish speakers. Orlando hopes to continue to serve the Latino community in the future. He would love to grow in his professional abilities and continue to be a part of the Clínica Médicos team.

¿Cuáles son sus experiencias con el español y la cultura latina? What is his background with Spanish language and culture?

After growing up in Guatemala, Orlando moved with his family to the US when he was a preteen. Now his parents and two younger siblings live in Tennessee. His experiences in Guatemala make him uniquely suited to serve the many Guatemalans that live in Chattanooga. He pointed out that while most Guatemalans do speak some Spanish, some of them are native speakers of indigenous languages. In those cases, there may still be a language barrier but it’s clear that Orlando approaches those patients with real empathy that comes out of a shared immigrant experience.

Outside of work and family, music is the part of Latino culture that is most prevalent in his life today. He enjoys a lot of classic artists like Café Tacvba, Maná, Ricky Martin, and Shakira. As a Guatemalan, he has a particular affection for the music of Ricardo Arjona. He said that Arjona is pretty much a Guatemalan national treasure.

¿Participó en un campamento de verano alguna vez? Did he ever participate in a summer camp?

Orlando shared that he was an overnight camper at the John Knox Center in Ten Mile, Tennessee. His experience there was life-changing for him as a young immigrant in the US. It helped him to grow and develop confidence in himself. He liked it so much that he later returned to the same camp as a counselor for two summers!

¿Quieres conectarte con Orlando y Clínica Médicos? Want to connect with Orlando and Clínica Médicos?

Clínica Médicos is proud to serve a diverse population of patients. You don’t have to speak Spanish to be a patient at Clínica Médicos. Orlando, their other staff members and doctors are welcoming to everyone who comes in their door. You can visit their website if you’re interested in being a patient there, or want some information to share with someone you care about.

If you’d like to make a donation to help provide care to their patients, you can find information here about donating through the Camellia Foundation.


Click here to learn about another Chattanooga vecino: Lily Sanchez from La Paz Chattanooga.

Language South aims to create an engaging and supportive community that inspires and develops lifelong learners and lovers of languages and cultures. Click here to learn more about El Pueblo, our summer Spanish Camp for kids and teens!