What’s It Like Serving Patients Living in Poverty?

Ramon Cancino, MD, MSc, Chief Medical Officer, Mattapan Community Health Center

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:

  • Identify at least two diseases that disproportionately affect people living in poverty.
  • Discuss the challenges of providing health care to a population living in poverty.
  • Discuss the challenges of providing health care to a population with limited education.

Description: Ramon Cancino, MD, MSc, Chief Medical Officer, Mattapan Community Health Center, was inspired to go into medicine after growing up around his uncle, a family practice physician. Now interested in the health of communities and populations, he works at Mattapan Community Health Center, a facility in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Boston, MA, USA.

In this video, Dr. Cancino discusses the relationship between poverty and health, and compares his experience treating patients in Mattapan and in Jacksonville, FL, USA, in the Mayo School of Graduate Medicine Education. He describes many of the social factors — known as the social determinants of health — that influence people’s risk of disease and their ability to lead healthy lives.

 
 
Have trouble viewing this video? Read the transcript.
 
Discussion Questions:
  1. Why do you think people living in poverty suffer from chronic diseases such as depression, hypertension, obesity, and asthma at higher rates than people who don’t live in poverty?
  2. Have you ever worked with a patient with some of the challenges Dr. Cancino describes, such as low levels of education, limited access to transportation, or poverty? What was the patient’s situation, and how did you help?
  3. What is the role of a community health center in addressing health problems in poor communities?
  4. Do you think burnout may be a problem for providers working in poor communities? What could help prevent or alleviate burnout?
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