April 27, 2021

Retired Pediatrician Volunteers with CCS

Dr. David Harris, a retired pediatrician, now puts his medical expertise to use by volunteering with Catholic Community Services’ Preferred Communities team. 

Preferred Communities is a program under Refugee Resettlement that manages the cases of clients with medical complications and family relations problems. These vulnerable populations qualify for the program for up to five years upon arrival to the United States. 

For years Dr. Harris has been aware of the challenges refugees often face regarding the United States healthcare system. Common obstacles include an unfamiliarity with and distrust of the medical system in general, language barriers, and cultural differences.  

For the last three years, Dr. Harris has been leveraging his knowledge to provide the Preferred Communities team with advice concerning medically fragile patients.  

“I come in and they explain problems that people are having, things they don’t understand, and records they’re missing,” Harris said. “I tell them what I think the most likely situation is even though I don’t have records in front of me and tell them what I need to get in order to know what's going on. Then they get the records and we explain the situation to everybody.”   

Dr. Harris recalls one case in which the child of a refugee client was unable to walk or talk. Although some medical records were missing, Dr. Harris was able to assess the situation and identify a possible diagnosis. CCS was then able to advise the parent on next steps for the child.  

Another way Dr. Harris has been volunteering his time is by helping with Men’s Wellness Psychosocial Support Groups. Dr. Harris, along with guest speakers from local universities, present to the group on medical topics like healthy childcare and child development, mental health, and nutrition. However, the groups are more than just medically focused. Guest speakers have also presented on a range of topics like budgeting, immigration law, and more.  

In volunteering his time with CCS, Dr. Harris found the opportunity to continue utilizing his decades of medical expertise for the wellbeing of others in our community. 

To learn more about becoming a volunteer with Catholic Community Services visit our volunteer page.