Shantae Rodriguez, PA, Physician Assistant
 
I grew up in poverty. As a child, my mother, struggled to provide for our daily needs. We received government assistance but the support we received was the bare minimum. I had very bad eyesight and the specific type of lenses I needed were not fully covered by Medicaid. My mother could not afford to pay anything additional; so, the covered frames I received were very large for my face with very, very thick lenses. My glasses looked extremely different from my classmates’, and of course, I became the focus of classroom jokes. I remember my mother, many times, sitting in pain from a toothache because she could not afford to pay the dentist. As a result of poor dental hygiene my mother had most of her teeth pulled in her 30’s and by 40 was wearing full dentures. I can personally relate to those struggling with limited access to health care.

As a Physician Assistant I desire to give back to the underserved and underprivileged like the community from which I came. I aspire to give my very best to impoverished individuals through healthcare. My current work is with a Federal Qualified Health Center, where we see patients regardless of their ability to pay, I treat many immigrant Latinos in various stages of deteriorated health. The majority of their diseases are preventable. Presenting health ailments are often due to lack of financial means, previous lack of access to quality health care, and poor health literacy. Particularly among Latino day laborers, disease prevention and management has been difficult. There are no job benefits for day laborers so taking a day off from work means a day of lost wages. Their economic needs are usually placed above their health. Many months go by before these patients return for follow up or treatment.

I am dedicated to making a difference in the lives of my patients. I do not believe that access and knowledge concerning a healthy lifestyle should be limited by race, gender, religion or socio-economic status. In order to make a difference, I must not only provide excellent quality of care but I also must support individuals to make changes where they live, learn, work, and play. This support must not only be medical but also mental, emotional, spiritual, and social. I support the work of New Life Community Health Center, because here patients are provided with showers, clothes, food and spiritual support. The whole being is addressed as a part of a patient’s medical care.