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Doctor, colleagues help immigrants navigate health care in New York City

Since receiving his medical license in the early 1980s, Dr. Ramon Tallaj was committed to improving the health system in his native Dominican Republic. Later in the decade, though, he was granted the opportunity to affect change abroad as well. 

Cardinal John O'Connor, then serving as archbishop of New York, invited Tallaj to the city, where he believed the doctor could make an impact among his low-income constituents. His leadership has since benefitted a number of organizations, the most recent of which, Advocate Community Providers, aims to streamline Medicaid care.   

DR. RAMON TALLAJ
Physician, ACP

“This is what I've been doing my whole life. My belief is that it's one of the things we could do to help maintain the good service for our poor communities.”

ACP prides itself on bridging the gap between the system and efficient treatment. The network's more than 1,000 affiliated physicians administer services to nearly one million people in New York City, many of whom are immigrants. With doctors like Tallaj who were immigrants themselves, the organization can relate to patients' challenges and speak their languages. 

Dr. Tallaj says this close relationship between giver and receiver makes people less likely to reserve medical visits strictly for emergencies. 

DR. RAMON TALLAJ
Physician, ACP

“Now we don't see the patient only about the treatment when he or she is in front of you. We have to know about the patient – 360 – for whatever situation is happening in their life.”

While some ACP physicians' care has gone as far as finding housing or reliable transportation for patients, the network primarily strives to improve communication between providers to avoid duplicate procedures and identify best practices. ACP assures the advanced collaboration will not only benefit patients, but also Medicaid as a whole.

DR. RAMON TALLAJ
Physician, ACP
“All the preventive medicine, which is so important, all the quality measures now... A close prevention and we work close with the patient because having them in good health is the best way to save money for the system.”

More than one-third of New York City's population is foreign-born. Many of these immigrants are low-income and, thus, receive public-funded health care from people like Dr. Tallaj. 

With an upcoming name change to Somos Your Health Care – or “We Are” Your Health Care – ACP seeks to demonstrate once again a commitment to the poor of its community.