Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm
Dr. Patricia Safavi begins her morning with her own three children before venturing to Next Door Pediatrics to spend the rest of the day with other people’s children. She’s a doctor who is devoted to the simple, but sometimes altruistic notion that everyone who needs health care should receive it, even if they are low in income and have no insurance.
“I got into pediatric care to have an effect on prevention,” Patricia says. “Having families raise their children rather than try to solve problems on the back end from less than-optimal resources.”
Accessing proper health care can be difficult for low-income patients — especially children, says Sharon Schulz, executive director of the Next Door Foundation, a community service organization that offers specialized programming at 2545 N. 29th St.
To meet the needs of low-income patients, Dr. Safavi and other Next Door pediatricians prescribe generic medications to patients because many of them have government-supported insurance.
“We are more forgiving with people who have trouble keeping appointments,” Safavi says. “All the things we can do in one visit we do. We do what we can this week, not next, and do a phone follow-up rather than office follow-up.”
The Next Door Foundation started out in the basement of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Milwaukee 35 years ago. It has grown from a small after-school program to a large and highly regarded social service network. It offers head-start programs, fatherhood programs, GED programs and parenting education. Additionally, a Books For Kids Program is housed in the building.
The clinic sends every child home with a book from the program.
Through a partnership with the Edu- Care Foundation, a state-of-the-art pilot daycare program opened last September.
“Patricia has dedicated her career to helping young patients who may not otherwise receive adequate health care,” says Schulz, who nominated Safavi for a Health Care Heroes Award.
Having children of her own has provided her a lot of wisdom for pediatric care, Safavi says.
“It teaches you what really happens at home,” she says. “Like what it’s like to give someone medicine three to five times a day, how stressful it is to wake up throughout the night.”
Safavi sees her role in these families as a supervisory one, much like a trusted aunt. She sees about 20 patients each day.
“You get to watch them grow,” she says. “By itself it is a real pleasure to get to watch families evolve as their abilities to raise their children improve.”
The medication and guidance Patricia provides make night-and-day differences in the school and home lives of the children she serves, according to Evan Zeppos, founder and president of Zeppos & Associates Inc., who also nominated Safavi for a Health Care Heroes Award.
“Dr. Safavi does incredible work in what is arguably Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhood. She is a true hero,” Zeppos says.