DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Doctors often impact a person’s life in big ways, but not everyone can easily access health care. One OSF provider in Danville is using his enduring journey towards becoming a pediatrician to change that.
“Growing up, I have memories with my friends in the neighborhood. You know, when we did expeditions, walking through the river or something. For some reason I was always like the doctor of the group,” recalled Dr. Luis Garcia.
Make-believe became reality, but being born and raised in Cuba, his path to getting there was different from most doctors.
“Over there, you actually practice medicine all day long. Meaning, it’s okay for even patients to show up at your door step at anytime: 9, 10 o’clock,” explained Garcia.
He practiced for a short time there before he was sent to Venezuela. Cuba got access to the country’s large oil reserves in the early 2000s. Venezuela got several things in return, including Cuban doctors.
“It was also used by both sides. Both the opposition and the Chavez regime,” Garcia said.
He was stationed in a neighborhood of people facing extreme poverty.
“It wasn’t unheard of [for] people just driving by [what was called] the Cuban offices [where] people might just come up and shoot randomly from the street,” Garcia said.
It was overwhelming, but also gave him “a true sense” of what it means to be there for his patients.
Garcia eventually came to the United States in 2009, continuing his passion of working with underserved communities in several states. However, he also wanted to reach a personal goal.
“[I was] trying to achieve or get a better quality of life not just for myself, but for my family who was left behind at that point.”
This December will mark two years at OSF.
Garcia and one of his coworkers, Emily Isom, aren’t just colleagues. She can speak firsthand to his quality of care. Her daughter is his patient.
“He is just so fantastic with her. She is not scared around him and he just makes her feel happy,” said Isom. “He actually will draw pictures…[and show patients] visually this is what we need to do. This is what’s happening.”
But that is not all. Garcia also has informative videos on the OSF website in Spanish for Hispanic families.
“It’s always good to have that sense of closeness in a way that [shows] same roots. We come from the same place. Let’s try to help our kids,” said Garcia.
And when it comes to working with children, Garcia says the opportunity to make an impact is beyond rewarding.
“I truly believe that we’re dealing with the future here.”