When Dr. Jonathan Phillipe was a child, he saw first-hand the power that healthcare has over people’s lives. Driven by his mother’s experience when she was very sick, he made the decision to become a doctor at a young age. In Haiti, where Dr. Phillipe grew up, healthcare was a luxury. Families had to choose between buying food or basic necessities and going to the doctor. He knew that by becoming a doctor, he could give back to his community and deliver better care for those that needed it.
While He was in residency at KU, a friend of his told him about Docs Who Care. He decided to pick up some shifts while he was in residency and was attracted to the mission of helping communities in need. “My motto in life is help the underserved,” he says. “Whether it’s back home, or here in the rural areas. It’s the same service but a different population.”
Working with Docs Who Care has allowed him to regularly return to Haiti to help communities in and around Port-au-Prince. Jonathan’s first trip occurred early in medical school, although he mainly checked blood pressure and handed out Tylenol. From that point on, he was able to go once a year and deliver higher and higher levels of care. In 2012, he was able to formalize his work and start a nonprofit called Santé Haiti. Through the non-profit, he’s been operating a mobile clinic serving communities in Port au Prince and the South of Haiti where there’s limited access to healthcare. In the past year, he’s been able to secure land and kick off the process of building a physical clinic in the northwest of Haiti.
Jonathan recalls a particular story from a trip in 2012: “We found a little girl that almost died because of an asthma attack, when here [in America] we have albuterol inhalers. Thank goodness, we had someone in the group who was also asthmatic, and she had an extra inhaler. That [the little girl’s] life was saved with two puffs of an albuterol inhaler. Imagine if we didn’t have it, or the parents couldn’t afford it. Story’s like this are the main reason I want to help. People could be dying from something that simple.”
Jonathan loves that Docs Who Care allows physicians to go to places where help is needed. This aligns with his personal reasons for pursuing medicine. The Docs Who Care mission still aligns with his: to pursue opportunities to help others who may not be able to afford care otherwise. He points out that Docs Who Care helps people rediscover the reason they chose to become doctors in the first place. He also likes that Docs Who Care is helping him become financially stable enough to pursue his nonprofit, while also having the flexibility to spend time with his family and build relationships with the Haitian people.