2001-03-10 / Columnists

From The G-Man The Knights From Nigeria

From The G-Man
The Knights From Nigeria

In medieval folklore the knight is a symbol of courage, strength and unshakeable faith. He lived by a stringent code of ethics, and he took an oath to protect those he served. I would like to inform you there are two present day examples right in Far Rockaway.

The Multiviz Health Services Center is the "castle" of Dr. Familusi and Dr. Ogunfowora. After obtaining medical training in their native Nigeria, the doctors came to America and did their residency at St. Johns Episcopal Hospital. Within a few years, they started a private practice in order to meet the needs of the many low-income and poverty stricken inhabitants of Far Rockaway. I had the esteemed pleasure of interviewing Dr. Familusi last week, and here are some excerpts from that interview.

G-man – This facility was recently featured on Fox 5’s Ten O’clock News. What made them take interest in doing a story about this office?

Dr. F. – "To my understanding, the Fox 5 News department was contacted by people from the community. They said that people were praising us for the level of service we provided, and that we might be on to something extremely different here, in terms of providing quality medical care."

G-man – What makes your facility so different from the others here and outside of Far Rockaway?

Dr F. – "We are doing two things that separate us from the rest. First, we are offering personalized medical care. This includes things like making house calls, providing a full time social worker on the premises and following up with every single patient on a consistent basis. In other words, once you come through the door, we don’t just check you out, write a prescription and send you on your way. We are proactive, interactive and we have a genuine concern for the people who trust us to care for them."

G-man – And the second thing you’re doing is?

Dr. F. – "The second thing we are doing is offering something called prepaid primary care services. Our patients can be seen for less than a dollar a day."

G-man – Excuse me, how’s that possible?

Dr. F. – "They have the option of paying $30 a month, or $360 for the year, and we will provide every medical service possible to them. It doesn’t matter how often they come in to see us during the given month or year. Once you prepay for the month, or year, that’s it. This also includes all in-office testing, and two children under the age of 17, or college students under 21, with two members of the family paying. The doctors’ fee for hospital services is $10 per day, for the first five days, and then it’s $5 per day thereafter. Moreover, we offer a $10 co-payment for every visit to the office regardless of service. It’s all based on your level of income, and the bottom line is we are willing to work with our patients to insure affordable health care."

G-man – With the high cost of medical care these days, you guys are just what the doctor ordered. No pun intended.

Dr. F. – "The goal is to help those who are struggling financially in this area, and I know there are many out there who are."

G-man – Is it true that you will be opening up a larger center, not far from your present location, and you doled out your own money to get it up and running?

Dr. F. – "Yes, that is true."

G-man – How much did you spend to make this possible?

Dr. F. – "Dr. Ogunfowora and I have spent two million dollars of our own money to construct the new facility."

G-man – Two million dollars! Damn, that buys a lot of rectal thermometers doc!

Dr. F. – (Giggling) "It sure does."

G-man – What do you hope to accomplish with the new facility?

Dr. F. – "We want to continue to do the same things we are doing here, but we will be doing them on a broader scale. We want all poor people to have access to health care. We want to offer personalized, and respectful, care in a well-deserved environment, along with quality care and constant follow-ups."

G-man – What types of services will you provide there?

Dr F. – "Let me say this. The facility will be the first of its kind. We will provide every major service you can think of. We will have specialists in areas such as cardiology, pediatrics, ob-gyn, dermatology, diet and nutrition, cancer, social work and a host of others. We will operate during the hours of 7 a.m. until midnight, for six days. Eventually, we will make the transition to seven days a week."

G-man – That is amazing, and a facility of this magnitude is definitely needed in Far Rockaway.

Dr. F. "I agree."

G-man – I spoke briefly with your social worker, Mrs. Rhonda Bair, and I told her that many people had written to me about her sincere and dedicated efforts to help them with serious problems. We also discussed the groundbreaking steps you and Dr. "O" were taking in the medical field. It was at that point that I asked her why more doctors were not following your lead, by spending their own money and opening up private centers, in order to provide affordable, quality care in poor communities. After all, you really seem to be on to something innovative at this center. So, I ask you. Why are they so reluctant?

Dr. F. – "Rhonda and I have the same answer with regard to your question. They are reluctant to go the extra mile, as we do here, because they really are not willing to become involved on deeper levels with their patients. Being a doctor isn’t simply nodding your head, writing a prescription and charging someone enormous fees for service. There is a human component to the medical profession that has been lost because of bureaucracy and non-involvement, by doctors, in the social conditions that affect the people they serve. More doctors have to learn to care not just for their patients, but also for the social conditions that cause them to experience medical distress."

G-man – What are the biggest medical problems facing Rockaway residents?

Dr. F. – "I’d have to say hypertension and diabetes. Most of the patients we deal with suffer from these ailments. Early diagnosis, and self-awareness, is key in combating them, and they can be controlled if properly monitored."

If you would like more information on the Multiviz Health Services Center, please call (718) 327-7307.

Sleep peacefully Leon. Take care folks. See you next week.

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