Meet the 2019 Healthcare Provider Champions - Mexico
Eliud nominated Dr. Isis Idali León Franco for:
Always showing empathy towards me and other patients who went to the clinic. On one occasion I needed to speak to her when I did not have an appointment. Without an appointment she still attended to me, and gave me her phone number in case I still felt discomfort after the medicine she prescribed for me. She always attended to me with professionalism, without stigma or discrimination at any time. With her, I feel the freedom to speak freely and be authentic. As a result, my viral load became undetectable and I still am after five years. It is very pleasant to come to her office and be received with a smile, joy, empathy and sincerity regardless of one’s sex, race, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity.
Isis Leon Franco: I am #DoingTheRightThing because...
All patients are human beings, deserving fair treatment and respect. We must devote all of our efforts to try and modify prevailing biased and harmful mindsets, so as to lower as much as possible the negative impact of a diagnosis as well as discrimination towards patients. Medical attention should be professional, fair and empathetic so that our patients develop confidence.
Josué Quino nominated Dr. Ángel Guerra for:
Respecting me as a human being. Dr Guerra has been my doctor for 34 years (he was the first doctor I consulted in 1986). From the first consultation, he planted the confidence I needed to believe in myself, in him and in the medical advances that made HIV a manageable health condition.
I have heard many stories from my friends, and how their doctors didn’t treat them well - my relationship with Dr Guerra is nothing like that. From the very beginning, Dr. Ángel Guerra, shook my hand, touched my face when checking my throat, measured my pulse without wearing gloves, listened to me breathing without wearing a mask, and hugged me when saying goodbye. He encouraged me to take antiretroviral treatment and when I refused, he referred me to a psychotherapist to make me accept the need for treatment. At the time, due to my health condition, it was impossible for me to work, so he made me promise to continue my medical visits and he would not charge me for our consultations until I found a job. That is when I understood that he was not there to try and sell me medicine. His purpose was indeed not driven by money, but rather by his humanity.
Ángel Guerra Márquez: I am #DoingTheRightThing because…
When people ask me the reason why I provide stigma-free services, I look back at the mid-eighties. Back in the day, I used to work for a private hospital, in a laboratory. One day, the nurse in charge of taking blood samples from patients approached me and said: “There’s a patient outside and I won’t take his sample”. I asked her why she wouldn’t and she argued that the patient had AIDS so she wouldn’t risk approaching him. In my case, that was the first time I had dealt with a person affected by HIV. I greeted a face which would become very familiar to me throughout the years. It was the face with typical signs of physical fatigue. What was more striking and caught my attention was sadness on his face. He told me many things about himself, including: “I know what I have but nobody has dared to tell me”. I proceeded to take his samples and we ended up talking for two hours. Most of the time he was the one talking while I was listening attentively, as I could see he had something to get off his chest. Once we finished the conversation, he stood up and we shook hands. He smiled at me and said: “Thank you very much for helping me to feel like I’m still a human being”. His words have had a strong impact on me ever since. We never ran into each other again. I do not remember his name, but I have treasured those words in my mind, which is what I think has enlightened me in my career ever since.
Josué Dan nominated Ms. María del Pilar Rodríguez Martínez for:
The way she treated me when he was sent to the clinic. She was the first person who attended to me with little fear. The first link and relationship you build with your healthcare provider is so important because this is when you build trust. The first contact with patients who enter a medical facility must be professional, kind, humane, and dignified. María del Pilar has always provided timely and complete guidance on the issues of HIV and sexuality. She provided and managed activities within the support groups held at the IMSS, in addition to having a personalized and attentive approach. María del Pilar is a professional person and prepared to give concrete answers to patients. She is dedicated to her work and is a great example to follow because she does not discriminate or stigmatize anyone.
Maria del Pilar Rodríguez Martínez: I am #DoingTheRightThing because…
When I began working here, a patient came to me, leaned over my desk and said – “Hi, I am HIV positive”. I looked him in the eye, greeted him with a handshake and told him – “Welcome, how can I help you?” He was surprised at my reaction. Since then, I realized that showing empathy is extremely important, and it encourages me to keep going and offering a good service. Regarding the colleagues who object to working with key populations, I would analyze their objection, I would clear out doubts, I would propose to work as a team and I would promote a change of mindset, as everybody deserves to.
Alejandro nominated Dr. Jessica Rocío Álvarez Ramírez for:
Treating me with kindness and respect from the first day we met. She is always available to help and willing to answer any questions that I have while on my treatment. I would recommend other doctors to follow her example. She does not discriminate against me because of my diagnosis; on the contrary, she had encouraged me to adhere to my treatment. I thank Dr. Rocío for being the way she is.
Jessica Rocio Alvarez Ramires: I am #DoingTheRightThing because…
I believe all people regardless of their HIV status or orientation should be treated respectfully. I do not think key populations are being treated fairly, nor are they fully understood. Respect is a value that I was raised with in my family and this is something that I kept reinforcing when I joined medical school. While working at the medical clinic, the General Director encouraged a number of sensitization techniques and importance of empathy and fair treatment towards patients. He also taught us to be a reliable reference to our patients. Only then would patients feel valued, welcomed, and develop trust.
In Mexico, discrimination in all social spheres such as work, family and friends is wide spread. I truly believe this happens due to lack of information. When people have a question, they seek out information on the internet, which can be misleading, rather than seek medical services. As a result, fear and rejection towards people living with HIV rises.