He’s been featured in our annual Profiles section, he’s beloved by staff and his patients, but he’s really just a regular guy under stress but keeping it real.
I’m sure Eladio Pereira, Mariposa Community Health Center’s medical chief, has personal problems just like the rest of us, and he works. He works hard. He makes house calls, even at night, weekends and holidays.
I’ve gone with my mom for her check-ups with him. I had a cook at my restaurant with multiple health issues who was in his care. I was her advocate of sorts. I’ve seen how he talks to patients. He takes his time; he talks about what’s going on in their personal lives. He laughs with them. He empathizes with their pain and with their families when there’s a loss.
Raise your hand if your doctor is like that.
What you get too often these days are “primary physicians” who are so under pressure that they march you through your visit as if you are on a production line. They are too careful about what they say and do as they tippy-toe on eggshells to avoid malpractice lawsuits.
These guys barge into the examination room, go directly to their charts or computers and begin firing off questions without seeming interested in the answers. Do you want to tell them about some strange symptoms you have developed of late that they do not readily understand? Good luck. There’s no time for “superfluous” chitchat. You’ll get over it. You’re having trouble hearing out of your left ear? Take a couple of ibuprofen and use your right ear. See you in six months.
Why even go? Pereira’s patient Gus Rigoli put it this way in a March interview with the NI: “They treat you like a non-identity. They rely on technology, MRIs and they treat you according to those test results. You could almost feed that information into a computer and have it produce a diagnosis.”
The problem is these symptoms that have developed of late can point to some serious issues that require immediate attention. More than that, there is no relief to the patient on a holistic basis. He or she will leave the office with uncertainty about what is going on with his or her body. It can be frightening.
Marjorie Stanzler, senior director of programs of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, a Boston-based non-profit organization that advocates for more compassion and empathy in the medical field, said in an article published in the Toronto Star that most people go into medical or nursing school for humane reasons.
“But they get into the system, and the system is so stressful that sometimes the humanity is just beaten out of them,” Stanzler says.
Well, Santa Cruz County is fortunate to have Pereira, who can tell you all about stress. Not only does he have a full roster of patients, he’s also has adeptly handled his management responsibilities since 1998. Yet he “treats the patient,” Rigoli said. “He talks to the patient; looks the patient in the eyes and probes to make his diagnosis.”
That’s the type of thing that’s sadly lacking in the medical profession these days. If patient care is an art, we have a lot of doctors without inspiration.
(Coppola is publisher of the Nogales International and Weekly Bulletin. Contact him at email@example.com.)