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Mover and Shaker for Hispanic Heritage Month: Dr. Lisa M. Maldonado

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by John Fey

Philadelphia is home to almost 1.6 million people, and, like any other major city in America, there are many health and mental issues that affect the population. The Hispanic population of Philadelphia makes up 15.2% of the total population of the city. While the healthcare system is alive and vibrant in Philadelphia, some populations of people find it hard to find good healthcare providers, especially in poorer areas and where language barriers might cause some issues.

Dr. Lisa M. Maldonado is a psychiatrist who has been working in her community to provide healthcare and mental health services to the Hispanic population of Philadelphia. Her work distinguishes her from other psychiatrists in that she helps people in her community who primarily speak Spanish.

Dr. Maldonado, a native of Puerto Rico, graduated from Ponce School of Medicine in 1985 and has been in the medical field for over 30 years. She has worked in the Northern Philadelphia region for a number of those years.
From the beginning, she worked almost exclusively with Spanish speaking clients and found that she was able to help the Hispanic population in the areas she worked in, many of whom had a hard time communicating with medical professionals for psychiatric care.

Her specialty is in helping children. “It was like a mission,” she said. In her eyes, “these kids deserve to have the same services,” like all other children around the country. Children in the Hispanic community have always been the main focus of Dr. Maldonado.

To help the children she worked with, she set up educational systems for the parents to help them with ongoing issues and how to work with these issues at home. She was able to create a track for Hispanic families to help with underlying health and mental wellness issues.

One of her missions was to educate her staff on the best way to handle their patients in the best way possible. She has worked to make sure part of her practice has been to deal with the Latino community in Philadelphia through education and proper communication with her clients.

Culture, says Dr. Maldonado, is crucial for making sure her practice is the most effective. Understanding how a community thinks and sees health is so important, but she acknowledges that it is not all the same, and differences in culture must be acknowledged by the medical community at large. Education and prevention are integral to making sure her patients all receive the best healthcare they can.

In 2010, Dr. Maldonado received the Medical Hispanic Professional of the Year Award for her services to her community. This included her efforts in educating her staff and clients in psychiatric care and wellness. She also received a mention from Tom Ridge for her work and influence in the community.

After 30 years in the medical field, Dr. Maldonado has found that “people learn to appreciate you,” no matter their situation in life. She thinks that the healthcare system in America is not equal for everyone, and she has made it her life’s work to create more equality and care for Philadelphia’s patients who need it the most.

“I’ve done my absolute best,” she says. “I really dedicated my life to the people I help.”

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