Hispanic Heritage Month: Health care leader working to give others a second opportunity

Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 6:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - WMC Action News 5 is partnering with La Prensa Latina to bring you special coverage for Hispanic Heritage Month. Last week, we introduced you to the only Hispanic principal at Shelby County Schools.

This week, meet a Mid-South health care leader who turned his second chance into a second opportunity for so many others.

La Prensa Latina
La Prensa Latina(La Prensa Latina)

“So what we do at LifeDoc is a little bit of everything around healthcare,” said Pedro Velásquez Jr., Operations Director, LifeDOC.

Velásquez and his family run LifeDOC -- an affordable network of healthcare specialists focused on the treatment and prevention of diabetes, obesity and other conditions.

“We try to understand what’s going on with our patient population to see what is the next step we need to do for them,” said Velásquez.

Born in Venezuela, Velásquez’s family moved to Memphis more than 20 years ago to seek out specialized medical care that could only be found in the Mid-South.

“In 1997 we moved to Memphis because of St. Jude, I was a patient there for four years,” said Velásquez.

After beating T-Cell leukemia, his family decided to stay in Memphis where his father, a doctor, led a team of researchers studying co-morbidities in children.

“Some of the things that he started seeing is that things that traditionally happen in adults or later on in life are happening in Memphis at a much earlier age. You see things like 8-year-olds, 14-year-olds with hypertension, diabetes at a rate that’s not normal,” said Velásquez.

In 2005, LifeDOC was born. Velasquez is Operations Director, working with his family to provide health care through programs like Vida Plus, which allows patients to get services up to 90% off, and Wave of Health; a program that’s now in two Green Dot charter schools and provides families with healthy food options, screening, education and direction.

Velásquez says as someone who found his second chance in Memphis, he’s committed to doing the same for others.

“What I experienced as a kid in terms of what I experienced at St. Jude and just how impactful that is in survivors' lives, it’s pretty common for us to have a sense of purpose that we want to try to achieve something with our second chance,” said Velásquez.

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