“It began when I was young. I was at a boarding school in Canada, sent by my parents to get better educational opportunities than I could get in my native Haiti. Since I was a child, I brought food and clothes to the poor, trying to help others”, says Dr. Kethy Jules-Elysee, recollecting her childhood when the seed to help others was firmly planted.
The seed bloomed into a flower of caring and compassion.
When Dr. Jules-Elysee finally went to medical school in the U.S., the desire to help others grew even stronger. After graduation, she started a community radio show to provide help for those in need. She worked at health fairs providing free medical services, always focused on supporting those who might be lifted up by a combination of compassion, knowledge, and caring.
During this time, she was developing extraordinary medical skills, eventually authoring multiple papers and becoming Board Certified in 3 different specialties – Internal Medicine, Anesthesia, and Pulmonology. Yet, even with all the responsibility that came with her professional growth, she never stopped trying to help others.
As she expanded her circle of caring, she says, “I got a chance to travel to the Dominican Republic in 2009 with a group of doctors who brought medicines to help poor communities.” When she saw what a difference that mere access to common medicines made, she began to rethink how to apply her medical skills to help others.
Then, the massively destructive Haiti earthquake hit in 2010.
She continues, “In 2010, I went to Haiti to help with the earthquake and saw so many terrible things including the consequences of very poor health care access. It affected me so deeply that I decided to go back every year after that and even twice a year in 2012.
“The more I returned, the more I began to understand how I could make the biggest difference by focusing on really basic medical services rather than using the advanced skills of my board certifications. I began to bring my own medications and came to believe that ‘miracles do happen’ because you rely on clinical skills when there is no equipment to support you.”
In Haiti there was a lot of back pain and neck pain from people’s work, so Dr. Jules-Elysee taught them basics such as how to lift and use proper posture. She focused on education, worked with nurses, and focused energy on teaching others to teach.
She says, “The most important thing is to treat people with respect. I attend to the very poor and they haven’t been treated as they should by certain doctors. They need to feel valued as a human being. I listen to their symptoms which is the first thing about medicine. They are sometimes shocked by the way you act – they see how much you care – they are surprised – they see how you treat people as human beings.
“The poor all have similar goals to the more advantaged. When I work with women, I try to motivate them to work together. They have the same concerns as all other women. Education for their children. They want things to be better. They are not that different from those who are well off, but they live in different world.”
Covid has made it hard for Dr. Kethy Jules-Elysee to travel but it hasn’t stopped her from trying to help. “With the recent earthquake, I managed to have the leadership at the Hospital for Special Surgery send surgical supplies to Haiti, medicine and anesthetics that could save lives and improve outcomes”.
But even a pandemic can’t stop the good doctor from helping others. Her latest project is organizing women in medicine.
She smiles and says, “Along with Dr. Anne Kelly and Dr. Kanuprya Kumar, we just formed a group of 100 women at the Hospital for Special Surgery in January 2021, as part of Women in Medicine (WIMS). The goal is to encourage other women and help them navigate their careers in medicine. The group has decided to help with Haiti right now.”
The compassion never ends. Thank you Dr. Jules-Elysee for your Profile in Caring.
ABOUT FELLOW HEALTH PARTNERS
Fellow Health Partners Inc. is a leading-edge medical business solutions company that helps healthcare professionals and institutions to improve their bottom line by applying innovative methods of streamlining and enhancing the medical billing process. Supported by an active advisory board of leading doctors, Fellow Health Partners acts as an extension to any medical practice or facility by providing billing expertise, office and workflow solutions, customer service assistance, Advisory services, and administrative support.
Fran Sharkey, CMO
Fellow Health Partners, Inc.