Dr. Luisa Pérez was born in the Dominican Republic, but today she lives and works in New York. The way she treats her patients is special. “I love them very much. I try to create a personal connection with them,” she says. “A human being isn’t just a physical body. You’re really a person who is full of emotions, with social, economic, or psychological problems, and we talk a bit about everything …”
She treats them “in a way that makes them feel that I’m looking out for them and that I care for them.”
A physician in the Bronx
People living in the Bronx suffer many difficulties, and Dr. Pérez knows this.
“Most of my patients are immigrants,” she explains. “Life is very expensive for them. All they do is work, but not only to support themselves here: to support their families and their loved ones outside the country as well. Uncertainty has caused many people to suffer from stress. They feel helpless, unable to fulfill their obligations here, much less there.”
Her day begins in a special way. “Every day, before I go out, I ask Jesus Christ, my heavenly Father, to help me and guide me on how I can help my patients. Every day I come with the best of intentions to see how I can help my patients. I want them to know they have a person who is looking out for them.”
Alone in New York
“There are a lot of people in New York who feel very lonely,” she laments. She explains why: “Families often can’t get together frequently, because they don’t have the time. So here at the clinic they feel they can come, and not just to take care of the medical aspect, as we help with their other issues.”
The help Dr. Pérez provides goes beyond what the norm demands. “They can call me or come here at a moment’s notice to tell me about their difficulties, their concerns, or their needs.”
She’s convinced that this kind of patient-doctor relationship is very positive. “Having a person who can treat you, already knowing who you are, is a great advantage,” she says.
Caring for the most vulnerable
Dr. Luisa Perez’s professional and personal career is closely linked to SOMOS, the network of physicians that serves the most vulnerable populations of New York City.
“It means having a family doctor who will see you at any time, regardless of whether you have money or not. We go out to the community, we bring vaccinations, primary care, mammograms, Pap smears, meals during the COVID pandemic when there was a shortage… We take care of this Bronx community at all levels, whether it’s primary care or specializations. Socially and economically as well, because we employ many people.”
The SOMOS network of doctors was created by Dr. Ramón Tallaj, a Dominican-born physician for whom practicing medicine is a vocation. He has become a leader in medicine in the United States.
“Dr. Tallaj,” she explains, “is first and foremost a very faith-filled person. He takes great care of his neighbor. He’s a person who gives of himself to solve whatever need other people might have. And if he can’t solve their problem, he looks for someone who can help them. I know that whatever he asks for isn’t going to be for him, but it is for all of us, for the community.”
The poem on her desk
On the desk in her office, Dr. Pérez has a poem by St. Teresa of Jesus.
“I always have it next to me,” she says, and then she reads it aloud slowly:
Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
“I tell my patients, ‘God is always with you. Don’t worry. We can solve this together.’ And that’s a tool I have so that my patients know that they aren’t alone in this world — and that God is everything.”