Name of Practice:
Avenue 360 Health & Wellness
DDS, University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston
Why He Was Nominated:
Passionate about public health and volunteerism, Dr. Barrera is an active leader in the Hispanic Dental Association and Doctors for Change, and co-created the Houston Equality Dental Network to organize LGBTQ+ dentists and provide accessible, unbiased care to LGBTQ+ patients. He promotes whole-body health as a certified Level 1 CrossFit coach and uses breathing and mindfulness techniques to help treat his patients.
Dr. Barrera’s employer, Avenue 360 Health & Wellness, opened in 1986, at the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to provide health care and social services to people being turned away from other establishments because of their HIV or AIDS diagnosis. The group is now a Federally Qualified Health Center providing primary, behavioral health and dental care, as well as reduced-cost pharmaceuticals, to medically underserved communities.
Tool He Can’t Live Without:
“Is coffee a tool?”
Impact of the Pandemic:
Avenue 360’s status as an FQHC kept it open throughout. “The beginning was scary, but it has been a fantastic learning experience. We served as a safety net and gained several new patients who were desperately seeking emergency care.” Dr. Barrera also used the opportunity to spotlight how the pandemic was unevenly affecting certain populations and wrote about the impact on the LGBTQ+ community for several platforms.
“I’m a gay Latino in a traditionally conservative profession, so I’ve had to work to make space for myself in my career.” Disrespectful comments in dental school, he says, made him hesitant to seek help from professors or participate in student activities. Now, though, he holds leadership positions in many organizations and encourages aspiring dentists to seek out mentors both in and outside dentistry.