Almost every week, Dr. Susan Partovi walks the streets of Skid Row, tracking down and checking in on her patients.
Most of the people she treats are homeless, often with severe mental illness, which makes these check-ups difficult.
Her patients rarely stay in the same place, so she never knows when or where she may find them. Partovi does this not only because she is the medical director of Homeless Health Care Los Angeles — which provides basic health services for the homeless community in LA — but because she sees herself in every patient she treats, no matter their circumstance.
“That’s key when we’re working with people who society doesn’t see as human,” said Partovi. “We’re thinking this could be my mom, this could be my brother, this could be my sister, this could be my kid,” Partovi said.
On this episode of “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez,” Partovi explains how a mission trip to Tijuana when she was younger inspired her interest in street medicine. She works with programs like the Center for Harm Reduction, which gives patients access to clean needles and offers community training to reverse opioid overdoses.
Partovi’s goal is to help as many people in need as she can. Her methods are unique: She says she will do whatever it takes to help her patients, even if it means bending the rules with her team.
“When it comes to saving lives, we don’t care if we’re going to offend you,” she said. “We’re ready to go to jail so that people don’t die."
Partovi has taken her work internationally as the cofounder of H.E.A.L, a nonprofit that serves Haiti’s impoverished population and introduces medical students to poverty medicine.
No matter where in the world she is, she hopes to continue her mission to treat all the needs of a person — physical, mental and situational — and do it with her caring touch.
“My goal in life is to make a difference and to make the biggest difference I possibly can make. And I’m a little addicted to that because when it works, it’s amazing."
Watch "LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez" at 9 p.m. every Monday on Spectrum News 1.