Medical Professionals can Change the Dynamic: Leticia Van de Putte

Published On September 23, 2013 | Austin MD, September/October 2013

Leticia Van de Putte

When she asked her grandfather one day why he did not take vacations, he simply replied, “My whole life is a vacation. What could be better than being here helping people?”

By Lauren Bolado

As a practicing pharmacist in San Antonio, Senator Leticia Van de Putte says healthcare is a main focus for her as a legislator. Since 1999, Van de Putte has been the Texas senator for district 26, speaking for and representing a very large portion of Bexar County that includes San Antonio.

Van de Putte is a San Antonio native and says her drive for healthcare and for politics stems from her experiences as a pharmacist in the community. As a child, Van de Putte spent her time at a pharmacy her grandfather owned named Botica Guadalupana in what is now Market Square in downtown San Antonio. She recalls memories of people lining up in the pharmacy, waiting to speak to her grandfather about all their medicinal questions for items even as common as headache relievers.

When she asked her grandfather one day why he does not take vacations, he simply replied, “My whole life is a vacation.What could be better than being here helping people?”

It is this dedication to helping people that inspired Van de Putte to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and become a pharmacist. She now owns and works a pharmacy in San Antonio named the Loma Park Pharmacy and Medical Clinic. Working at the pharmacy allows her access to her constituents to get a first-hand look into the lives that are affected by the policies she either supports or works to change.

“Good policy is what we want for good outcomes,” Van de Putte says.

And the key to good outcomes, according to Van de Putte, is preventative healthcare. For example, she is taking steps to change immunization protocol for children with a program named the Texas Two Step, encouraging and enforcing full immunization for children by their second birthday. Other preventative care policies she is working on include childhood obesity, newborn screenings, lead registry and standards for ambulatory care services.

Van de Putte’s work in childhood obesity has resulted in a program named “Move It.” With this program, San Antonio’s childhood obesity problem has decreased by 6 percent. Children are important to Van de Putte. As a mother and as a grandmother, she understands the importance of health and wellness for kids.

Women’s health surrounds Van de Putte as a pharmacist, a woman and as the mother to a practicing gynecologist. For Van de Putte, a sad fact is that most states provide one year of healthcare for new mothers, whereas Texas provides only 60 days postpartum medicare. New moms need the year to get “well-woman checks” and get information about family planning, in order to space out her children, ultimately saving the state money. Getting the opportunity to have help plan their family can prevent a young women from having a repeat pregnancies, allowing them to pursue an education or career. Including healthcare professionals in all levels of decision making, she says, is crucial in promoting health, rather than health care. City officials can promote health, for example, with immunizations, walkable streets, public parks, communities, by their zoning and planning, that promote exercise and wellness.

“Millions of people in Texas have health care that is governed by state purchasing, and you have got to have those prudent folks who understand the system. There are very few small business people as well. You really need those backgrounds in a group to affect policy, because it changes the dialogue at the table,” Van de Putte says.

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