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A letter from Risheet Patel, M.D.
To whom it may concern:
My name is Risheet Patel, MD and I am currently a family medicine resident in Indianapolis, IN. I am writing to share an experience that I had with Dr. Robert Paeglow. When I was a second year medical student, I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Paeglow in his clinic as he helped take care of patients from a local homeless shelter. As a second year student, we didn’t get much exposure to actual patients, so I jumped at any opportunity I could get. Dr. Paeglow would keep his clinic open in the evenings a few nights a week to allow residents from a local homeless shelter to come and get free health care. He would do his best to treat any ailments they would have including sometimes paying out of his own pocket for any medications or laboratory testing they would need. He would always have medical students around who were eager to gain experience and medical knowledge. During my time there, I really was not knowledgeable yet on the latest treatment for hypertension or the classic signs of pneumonia. Yet, I learned a lesson far more valuable. While I watched Dr. Paeglow interact with his patients, I learned the value of compassion. This man would stay late in his clinic, away from his family, and take care of patients who were unable to pay him and may never return for any follow up care. Yet he treated every one of them as if they were his own patients. Seeing this made me realize that wherever I ended up in life, I should not forget the basic concept of compassion and treating patients regardless of any other circumstances. Needless to say with Dr. Paeglow’s generosity, his clinic is struggling to make ends meet.
Later when I was a third year medical student, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Paeglow in his clinic in a continuity setting. Most of the rotations in medical school are limited to 4-8 weeks. This does not allow us the opportunity to see the same patients over a long period of time. During any one rotation, you may see quite a few different cases, but you never usually see the same patient back again when they return for follow up. Dr. Paeglow helped develop a program that would allow medical students just that opportunity. I went to his clinic every Friday for almost my entire third year of medical school. In doing so, I was able to see the same patients back over the course of the whole year. While the medicine I learned was not all that different from my normal rotations, I was able to clearly see how a primary care doctor interacts and develops relationships with patients over the long term. As I am also going into primary care, this experience was invaluable. It did take Dr. Paeglow and his office staff quite some time to organize and implement this program, but he felt that the medical students needed this experience, and I thank him for that.
Between my third and forth year of medical school I was able to travel to Africa with Dr. Paeglow on a medical mission. We went as a group of 16 doctors, nurses, and medical students to small towns in Uganda and Kenya to treat the local people there. At first I was nervous not knowing what to expect, but I soon was put at ease. The people there were very friendly and truly appreciated any help we were able to provide. We took with us some basic medications and medical supplies and were able to treat infections, repair simple injuries, and help treat malnourishment. One of the great outcomes of this trip was Dr. Paeglow’s ability to inspire me as well as many of the other medical students to want to do similar trips in the future. While we were only able to do so much during our three weeks there, I now have a desire to continue to do similar trips in the future. Dr. Paeglow has a special gift of being able to inspire the people around him to do good things, and that is unique. Doing these trips twice a year requires a great deal of financial resources. It is becoming exceedingly more difficult for Dr. Paeglow to do these trips given the fact that his clinic sees patient with little to no insurance. Any help you could provide would be extremely appreciated by him and his patients as well as future medical students who will be able to experience the joys and rewards of doing medical mission trips as I did. Thank you.
Dr. Risheet Patel
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