NEW YORK (WABC)—— A New York City pediatrician is connecting and connecting with her patients after overcoming challenges in Venezuela to come to New York.
“When I came here for my medical school interview, I went to a public hospital downtown…and we visited the emergency room and it was very chaotic,” said Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez. “Everyone spoke Spanish. All kinds of people from all walks of life. I just remember having a moment of ‘I belong here.'”
For Bracho Sanchez, establishing roots in New York has been an uncertain and scary journey.
“I was born in Caracas in the 1980s, and Venezuela was a stable, prosperous country,” she said. “I don’t remember ever feeling unsafe.”
When she was 14, the family of five moved to Florida while her father worked as a research scientist. But her life hit rock bottom when she was a freshman in college.
“We just got a notice and it was like you have 30 days to leave the country,” Bracho-Sanchez said. “I remember I had to leave the country and I was very frustrated.”
But they did it.
“When we came back, it was obvious that the country had changed and we almost felt like foreigners,” Bracho-Sanchez said.
What was once one of the richest countries in South America turned into one of the worst-performing economies in the world.
“On any given week, you can’t find eggs, or you can’t find milk, sometimes the power goes out,” Bracho-Sanchez said. “I don’t think people realize that when you don’t live in that environment , how much energy it takes to cope with the unpredictability of life.”
Unable to find work as educators in Caracas, her parents spent 12 hours finding a job. Bracho-Sanchez and her sisters stayed to attend college.
“I do remember having moments like this and what was going on and how I was going to get through it, like every time you finish something there’s an extra hurdle and an extra hurdle and an extra hurdle,” she explain. “I just remember breaking down and crying and then having to pick myself back up.”
Later that year, she received a call from her father.
“He called us and asked, ‘How are you guys feeling about moving back?'” Bracho-Sanchez said. “Everyone was crying. Some were screaming, some were laughing? ‘Are you serious? Can we really go back?'”
Bracho-Sanchez returned to the United States, attended medical school and became a pediatrician, all the while never forgetting the obstacles she had to overcome.
“It’s difficult and unpredictable, but it also makes you adaptable and resilient,” she said. “You have a slightly different constitution and you’re able to handle things that come at you. I think that really helped me medically.”
Many of Bracho-Sanchez’s patients have never heard her story, but there is a connection. They could feel a special sense of love, compassion and strength from everything she endured.
The 35-year-old now practices at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia Ambulatory Care Network.
“As a Latina, I think it makes a lot of sense that there are a lot of Latina women in the medical profession and that Shia doctors are Latina,” said the mother of her patient Pilar Ponciano explain.
She is relatable and inspiring.
“It would be easy to give up and move on, and she didn’t do that, she said this is what I want and I’m going to pursue it,” said Maura Pineda, her patient’s grandmother. “Personally, I think her story is amazing. I think she’s a fighter. I think she’s great.”
Blanco-Sanchez said she is lucky to be able to connect with patients and make a living the way she does.
“There’s something that brings us together, our culture, our heritage does bring us together, but we don’t always have the time to really sit down and talk about it,” Bracho-Sanchez said. “It’s really It’s very rewarding. I’m grateful that I get to do this job.”
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