New doctors choose to help the most vulnerable in Lisbon

In an area of Lisbon where a third of the patients are migrants, and the rest are mostly elderly, these young doctors have used Google Translate, as well as a lot of empathy, to revolutionize healthcare in the neighborhood. And it is working.

Catia Bruno
Cátia Bruno NewsMavens, Portugal
New doctors choose to help the most vulnerable in Lisbon - NewsMavens
Doctor, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Martim Moniz is a run down area of Lisbon. Comprised of mostly elderly Portuguese people who rarely leave the house and a large migrant community (mostly from Bangladesh, Pakistan and China), it is not the most touristic or attractive area of the Portuguese capital.

Four recent medicine graduates created a group of nurses and administrative clerks and put in place a new kind of public health clinic in the area.

Today, they help a population of around 15,000 people. Using their best English skills and Google Translate when needed, they manage to communicate with their foreign patients -- and also support the local Portuguese community, mostly elderly people who feel very isolated.

This story is a enlightening example of how team work and a willingness to reach out can have a lasting impact on the lives of those who feel abandoned by society. 

Details from the story:

  • The four friends are so young that a few people described them as "doctors in diapers" at first. With time, they gained everyone's trust, particularly from older patients who were suspicious at first but who now love their doctors.
  • The team not only put in place a new clinic, they also changed the rules from the previous one. With more organization and availability from all members, they managed to reduce waiting lines and to provide better care to both children and older people.
  • In an area with deep social problems, most patients come to them not only with health issues, but also personal ones: unemployment, evictions, poverty. The team does its best to alleviate the mental health problems that come with that as well and guide them towards social programs put in place with the local institutions' support.
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