Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez earns Hispanic Pathways Award

Because of his seemingly tireless efforts to provide much-needed medical care to the communities both near USF and in the Dominican Republic, Eduardo Gonzalez, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Hispanic Pathways Award in the tenured faculty category.

Dr. Gonzalez will be presented with the award at the USF Hispanic Heritage Kickoff reception Oct. 6 in the Marshall Center Ballroom on the USF Tampa campus.

In his nomination letter to the USF Latin Community Advisory Committee, Steven Klasko, MD, MBA, Dean of the College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health, noted Dr. Gonzalez’s success in reaching those in need both locally and internationally by leading two premiere programs at the COM that serve Hispanic communities, as well.

Locally, Dr. Gonzalez is co-advisor for the student-run BRIDGE Clinic, which is located near USF and serves medically indigent patients who would likely not otherwise receive health care. He provides guidance to students in the clinic and helps recruit faculty volunteers, serving as a mentor and role model. The clinic served more than 1,000 patients in 2010.

“This service alone is deserving of recognition,” Dr. Klasko wrote, but “Dr. Gonzalez is not satisfied to help only locally.”

Each year, Dr. Gonzalez and other physicians lead a group of USF medical and nursing students to Jaracaboa, Dominican Republic, during spring break, where they provide health care in a rural clinic and bring donations of much-needed medications and medical supplies. Through student-run fundraising, the group raises $200,000 to $300,000 annually. While there, the team sees hundreds of patients within the five-day period.

Dr. Gonzalez on a recent trip to a rural clinic in the Dominican Republic.

“Eddy serves as leader for this group and inspires students consistently to serve their communities, regardless of ethnicity or race,” Dr. Klasko wrote, adding that Dr. Gonzalez is again a strong role model, mentor and teacher as he works alongside these students.

In her letter informing Dr. Gonzalez that he’d been selected to receive this year’s award, Maritza Rovira Forino, chair of the USF Latin Community Advisory Committee, noted that judges were very impressed with is community involvement at the BRIDGE Clinic, as well as for the annual trip to the Dominican Republic.

“In both of these endeavors you are not only helping those in need, you are also demonstrating to the medical students you supervise some valuable lessons about giving back,” she wrote.

The Hispanic Pathways Awards were created in 2004 by the USF Latin Community Advisory Committee to recognize tenured and non-tenured faculty for outstanding research and/or outreach that creates pathways to the betterment of the lives of Latinos in our community, state, or nation. Later, the Committee expanded the award categories to recognize outstanding USF staff and students. The Committee is made up of community volunteers and is advisory to the USF President.

Story by Sarah A. Worth, top photo by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications