The spotlight's on Jasmine Sulaiman, M.D., Staff Care's Country Doctor of the Year for 2016, as she continues to receive well-deserved recognition from the media about her contributions to the care of the rural community in which she practices, Cleveland, Texas.
Last month, Medscape offered a profile of Dr. Sulaiman and the Country Doctor of the Year Award, offering a rundown of her journey as well as her thoughts on receiving the award.
"Practicing rural medicine takes you far away from the rat race and allows you to more fully focus on the patient experience and delivering meaningful, holistic care," she said. "I love practicing rural medicine. Every new day brings new patients, new experiences, and new opportunities to get involved in my local community. As a rural health practitioner, I truly feel that I am a key part of my patients' well-being." Read the Medscape article here.
HealthLeaders Media also caught up with Dr. Sulaiman at the time of the initial announcement last month. "I work more hours than usual, but I don't have any complaints," she told them. "I really enjoy what I do." Read that article here.
H&HN Speaks to Dr. Sulaiman about Community Care
Dr. Sulaiman is now the focus of another story, this one published by the American Hospital Association's Hospital & Health Networks (H&HN) magazine.
The article describes Dr. Sulaiman's career in Cleveland, a small town about 50 miles from Houston where access to preventive health care had been difficult for many residents. When she arrived 11 years ago with her husband, the local hospital had been closed for several years, but a position with a new community clinic was available.
“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at," the CEO of that clinic, Steve Racciato, told Lauren Arcuri about his first impression of Dr. Sulaiman. "She was obviously very qualified, and she could have a job making a lot more money in a large group practice. But this is the kind of work she wanted to do.”
“I was interviewed by about 10 people, all community members,” she says. “The hospital was losing money through emergency room visits, and they wanted to create a clinic to help keep patients out of the ER.”
Arcuri describes the clinic — the Health Center of Southeast Texas, now a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with a new clinic that opened in 2013. "The beginnings were humble: The health center bought a two-room flower shop and converted it to a clinic, with donated furniture and a computer contributed by the local Walmart.
As the only physician, Dr. Sulaiman saw 4,000 patients that first year — "some for free," Arcuri notes. Today, Dr. Sulaiman and the team at the Clinic have opened a number of satellite clinics across three rural Texas counties, "all in areas high in poverty and considered medically underserved, with a shortage of health professionals.
Arcuri describes other aspects of Dr. Sulaiman's commitment to her patients, her community, and the quality of care throughout rural Texas in general. For instance, she works with churches and community organizations to help provide transportation to and from medical appointments for patients in need. "She also reaches out to specialists, negotiating reduced-payment rates for uninsured patients," Arcuri writes.
“I’m constantly looking for good partners in care,” Dr. Sulaiman told Arcuri, adding that she feels herself to be a key part of her patients’ well-being.
"I don’t see them as patients, really. I treat them as though they were one of my family members. I teach all my staff that — you make fewer mistakes that way.”
Read the H&HN article here.
Working to Bring Better Healthcare Services to More Rural Areas
Dr. Sulaiman has been getting attention from her local media, as well. In its initial coverage of the award, Cleveland Advocate discussed her work to implement a tele-psychiatry program at the Center. (Read that article here.)
"Each year, she runs a two-day free clinic in Matamoros, Mexico," the article adds. "In 2013, Dr. Sulaiman was named Texas Family Physician of the Year by the Texas Academy of Family Practice."
The Advocate also covered April 8's ceremony held in her honor at the Cleveland Civic Center, a celebration that included presentations "from the offices of Texas Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Brian Babin, State Rep. John Otto and Cleveland Mayor Niki Coats, and remarks from Sulaiman’s daughter," wrote Vanesa Brashier in that article. (Read it here.)
Staff Care President Sean Ebner was also on-hand at that ceremony. “This award honors the spirit, skill and dedication of America’s country doctors,” he said. “Rural communities lose approximately 1,000 rural doctors per year and only 700 take their places.
“By celebrating Dr. Sulaiman and doctors like her, it will inspire other doctors.”
Learn more about Dr. Jasmine Sulaiman at our Country Doctor of the Year page. And if you're in need of physicians to work in a rural community — or anywhere else in the U.S. — contact Staff Care today.