Dr. Susan Richman is committed to helping others. Besides her private practice experience, she is an active volunteer in her community and beyond. In the past, she has volunteered for the Indian Health Service (IHS). IHS provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. Dr. Richman was a volunteer for The Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS) in New Mexico, and in addition, has participated in medical mission work in Ecuador.
Dr. Richman is always looking for new ways to give back. Recently, she is working with The Shoreline Interfaith Coalition as they are a co-sponsor with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS). IRIS is the largest resettlement agency in Connecticut. Their mission is to connect clients to the resources they need to thrive in their communities. IRIS has many different working teams including housing, apartment set-up, healthcare, education, finance, transportation, employment, and fundraising. Dr. Richman is a part of the healthcare committee, which makes up roughly 30 individuals including doctors, nurses, and social workers. The committee is currently working with a family of two parents and their 13 children.
Dr. Richman explains:
“Our job is to get together and review the medical history and find out what needs there are for each family member. Not all needs are physical. There are emotional needs as some could be traumatized and needed to see a therapist. There are also physical needs as every child needed to see a pediatrician to catch up with vaccinations. We went through each person’s medical history to gather as much information as we could with one of the family members translating. Our job is to listen and make medical appointments accordingly.
This family is experiencing a new language, a new culture, new weather, new everything. With a new environment and new schools, I can only imagine how overwhelming it can be for the children but they seem very happy and are very friendly. Whenever I stop by the house the family always offers us something to eat. Hospitality is very important. In return I make sure when I visit, I bring something for them.”
Dr. Richman spends time driving the family to their medical appointments. She assists with translation, makes any additional appointments necessary, and handles any pharmaceutical needs. The medical team’s goal is to assist and help clients learn to navigate the system independently.
Healthcare support is one of many elements of support this family receives. Dr. Richman explains how one day she was taking one of the kids back from an appointment and she met another volunteer from the education committee. It was school vacation week and she had volunteered to do homeschooling. Just one example of how many are involved.
“When all the volunteers first met, everyone went around and shared their story and why they thought it was important to volunteer. Many had grandparents that came to America, spent weeks on Ellis Island, found work and lived on the lower east side, and now a doctor or a nurse two generations later. You always want to help up the next person to come.”
To learn more about IRIS and ways to get involved please visit: http://irisct.org/volunteer