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Wednesday 14 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Hadewych of Meer
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Family unity contributes to the health of children and adolescents

Dr. Denise Nuñez explains how she treats her patients in the Bronx, New York.

Dr. Denise Nuñez is a pediatric intensivist working in the Bronx, New York. Her patients are children in very serious situations, such as kidney transplants or heart transplants. When the children have overcome the most difficult stage of treatment, she continues to attend to them in her private practice: “I take care of them to keep them healthy,” she says.

“Children need emotional and social support”

She says her task isn’t completed by curing the body alone: “Apart from medical and clinical care, children need emotional and social support.” Núñez understands the way of life of the people living in the Bronx, many of whom are of Latino origin. “I studied medicine in the Dominican Republic, although I was born and live in New York.”

This facilitates empathy with the families she deals with: their problems with migration, economic difficulties and cultural differences, for example. She tries to “help them with the social problems they have at home and with their problems with education.”

Her recipe for children to grow up healthy

Beyond physical care, Nuñez says that health care for children and adolescents is successful when the whole person is cared for: “We’re always telling children and families to stay together, to pray together, and to maintain our Catholic values in a country as powerful as the United States. That’s a very important part of our practice.”

A network of doctors for the poor

Denise Núñez is part of the Somos network of doctors, which serves economically disadvantaged people in New York, regardless of their origin or religion. She’s in contact with other doctors and tries to improve the living conditions of these people.

Family communication

Sometimes the solution is to encourage communication at home. “Everything, deep down, is communication,” she says. That’s why she insists that in the family, “unity has to come first” so that the doctor can work much more effectively.

A daily prescription

One practical recommendation the doctor gives is for families to gather “a for a brief moment every day before bedtime, see how their day has gone and pray together. If you do that, then when you come back to my office I can work effectively.”