Currents News Staff
In September 2019, Pope Francis met with a network of doctors who provide health care to ethnic minorities in New York.
“This solidarity with the sick is a real treasure, and it is a distinctive sign of authentic health care and assistance, which puts the person and his needs at the center,” the Holy Father said.
The doctors of SOMOS Community Care never suspected that they would be faced with the biggest challenge of our time: the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus spread quickly among them and their patients, most of whom live in crowded apartments and struggle with more serious health conditions.
But, they didn’t give up.
“I think our meeting with Pope Francis in September 2019 was prophetic,” Ramón Tallaj, founder of SOMOS Community Care. “This message telling us what we had to do with the poor in New York, and I don’t think we’ve let him down. We haven’t failed him. I think we’ve done the work and we feel very good about it, and if it happens again, we’ll do it again.”
This network of family physicians, doctors are from the same cultural communities as their patients, and treat them in the language most familiar to them. Now, they’re administering vaccines, to guarantee an equitable distribution.
They’ve set up vaccination centers in schools, churches and synagogues throughout New York, to make people feel more comfortable.
“We have the vaccine of hope for the virus of solitude. That’s what we called it: the vaccine of hope,” said Ramón. “The vaccine is more important than the disease. if you don’t want the vaccine, the virus will get to you sooner or later.”
This group of doctors was one of the first to take action when the pandemic broke out, and it has remained one of the most active.
Besides administering vaccines, they have given about half a million COVID-19 tests and also addressed the socioeconomic crisis.
SOMOS Community Care has also distributed 5 million rations of food; supported small businesses in the city; and helped people in need of financial resources pay for funeral costs.
They are doctors who refuse to leave anyone behind.