Remembering where you come from nowadays seems like it’s just a saying. With ambitions of a family, wealth and better health, most of those living in low-income neighborhoods move away and rarely have time to give back. But a Chicago doctor decided to do something different.
Dr. Fred Richardson returned to the neighborhood where he grew up to specifically provide care to those who need it most: his old neighbors.
Dr. Richardson was raised in Englewood, a low-income area on Chicago’s South Side with once one of the highest unemployment and crime rates in the Midwest. After finishing medical school, for the past 25 years, Richardson’s given back by making house calls in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods so residents can get proper medical support.
Though house calls may seem a little bit old-fashioned in these days of selfies, online appointments and doctors skyping, Richardson says that sometimes it’s the only way his patients can receive support.
“These old guys can’t get out,” he told the “Today” show, explaining that some of his patients are unable to leave their homes for care. “Medicare will pay for a home visit — actually will reimburse better than [for] an office visit.”
And his patients love the down-to-earth, personable care that sometimes lacks in a big, busy, corporate hospital setting.
“One of the things I enjoy the most about having a doctor like Dr. Fred is that he’s a good listener,” Alberta Bowles, one of his house call patients told the Chicago Tribune. “You can talk to him. He does not rush you to do anything and he never dismisses anything you say.”
Fred was the only African American in his medical class, and he received a great measure of negative feedback.
“I was told many times, ‘Your grades aren’t high enough to do this,” Richardson told one class. “They said I would never do it.” However, he proved that he could. That’s why Richardson, who works six days a week, and is on call 24 hours a day, also finds time to empower future generations. Several nights a week, in his office, he mentors minority medical students who are struggling free of charge. To date he has helped 50 students become successful doctors! His daughter Jessica is one of those doctors.
Giving back isn’t just something that sounds good to Dr. Fred, it’s a way of life.