Written by Kyle Smith, undergraduate in economics and computational biology at University of Rochester and participant in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program
On July 10, Casa de Salud, a local organization offering affordable or no-cost healthcare, welcomed community members for a viewing of Clinica de Migrantes: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Steven Larson (Executive Director and Co-Founder, Puentes de Salud), Dr. Maxim Pozdorovkin (Director, Clinica de Migrantes), Carlos Restrepo (Membership Coordinator, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), and Jorge Riopedre (President, Casa de Salud).
Dr. Larson is the co-founder of Puentes de Salud, the organization at the center of Pozdorovkin’s documentary. He spoke with leveled clarity about the needs of his patients, and the disparities in health that exist in Philadelphia, his home. Puentes started in a basement, in what was essentially closet space, but has now permanently relocated to Penn’s medical campus as a result of Dr. Larson’s dedication.
Pozdorovkin has garnered acclaim and widespread recognition for his diverse body of work. He described how moved he was by the work at Puentes, and by the purity of intention of Larson and his staff, which motivated him to record their efforts.
Restrepo and Riopedra grounded the themes of the film in the similar reality of St. Louis. They echoed each other in acknowledging the generosity of many in St. Louis, but were vocal about the continued needs of their constituents. They highlighted how much it meant to see support in the community, and how much that support allows their organizations to stand strong.
After hearing the panel members speak, it was clear that each shared a key ideal: the necessity of interconnectedness in their work, and for the populations that their work serves. No organization or individual can make a difference when siloed. This event was an uplifting example of their dedication to making these connections, and to fortifying the safety net for the communities they serve.