Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on September 9th, 2014

Dr. Philip Brickner: A doctor who made house calls to the poor.

Philip, who at 85 recently passed away in his Bronx, New York home did what few other doctors do. He became a doctor to the poor and the homeless.

It began in 1969 when Philip and his colleagues at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York realized they were getting a flood of elderly and sickly men in the emergency room.

It turned out the men were coming from a nearby rundown hotel that housed 1200 men, including drug addicts and recently released convicts. They each lived in a 6 by 8 foot chicken wire and cinder block cubicle.

Dr. Philip Brickner
Dr. Philip W. Brickner, right, in 1989, examining Ka-Lam Pang, 68, a stroke patient, in his home. He modernized home care. Credit Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

When Philip and his colleagues went to this hotel, they saw severe health issues and also injuries inflicted by some of the stronger men on the weaker ones.

Philip setup a "free clinic" at that hotel, which he and his colleagues operated three times a week. He formed teams, comprised of a doctor, nurse, social worker and electrocardiograph technician, to call on them.

Philip also added daily visits to the sickest.

This was the start of Philip providing free medical care to the poor and doing it where they lived.

Over time his patients included people who were homebound by physical limitations, including in some cases, the infirmities of old age, as well as disabled children and AIDs patients.

Why did he do this? "There is no point in a doctor in a clinic telling someone to go home, elevate her leg and take antibiotics when she has no home and no money," Philip told The Boston Globe in a 1990 interview.

One of Philip's greatest achievements was during the 1980's when he ran a pilot program in 19 cities, providing medical care to the homeless.

This pilot program led to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act of 1987, providing extensive medical care to shelters and food lines, patterned on Philip's work.

Today, this law, its amendments, and newer programs provide services in 249 cities.

For Philip, it came down to this: He was a strong advocate of doctors, black bags in hand, going anywhere patients needed them. And by his actions he set the example.

Success Tip of the Week: You too could make a wonderful difference in helping others, either by volunteering some of your time or by making charitable donations. Your compassionate caring is desperately needed and appreciated.

Editor's Note: To learn more, please see nytimes.com and nhchc.org

In the next KazanToday: How a man became one of the world's most respected teachers.

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