We’ve been writing about workforce a lot lately–about the challenges of building a primary care workforce and recruiting and retaining staff at health centers. Today, we detour on a different theme with a look at Jasmine Sulaiman, MD. Dr. Sulaiman is a health center physician in Cleveland, Texas, a rural swath about 45 miles northeast of downtown Houston. Population: just over 7,600. Some people have to travel up to 40 miles for basic healthcare. That’s where Dr. Sulaiman comes in. She could have picked any place to practice medicine or teach. Instead, she chose to serve a Community Health Center where over half of the patients are uninsured.
Since 2006 she has been the medical director of the Health Center of Southeast Texas, in addition to being an associate medical director of a local hospice. To be sure, the challenges were daunting when she first hung her shingle. According to the local Cleveland Advocate, [see article] the local hospital had just closed and access to care was immediately affected. Working out of a converted flower shop, Dr. Sulaiman began seeing 40 patients a day as the center’s sole physician. Even today, Dr. Sulaiman is on call 24 hours a day. When patients cannot come to the center, she also goes to them, driving up to 25 miles a day with her team of medical assistants. This is why she was named “2016 Country Doctor of the Year ” by Staff Care, an AMN Healthcare Company. Before that she was named the “Physician of the Year” by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians [see article].
Dr. Sulaiman completed her education in India and Saudi Arabia before completing her residency with the Bassett Elizabeth Family Medicine Program at Columbia University, and postgraduate training at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. She could have landed in a place where the pay is better, the work a little less demanding. Yet, she chose to work at a Community Health Center where, according to a colleague, patients do not simply consider her a physician, but a “healer, counselor, mentor and friend.”
Do you have a provider at your health center that deserves notice? Let us know and we’ll feature them on this blog.