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  • Writer's picturedefeatthestreets

Superhero Jonathan Santos-Ramos

Without knowing it, Jonathan Santos-Ramos was carving out his niche in life starting as far back as High School. While teenagers were making adolescent decisions and creating a self-absorbed existence, Jonathan was already giving back to his community and the global stage, unwittingly. Making him an innate superhero. While in High School, he started volunteering one summer as a peer outreach worker doing health education and HIV counseling and testing that became a passion. Jonathan continued this work all through his undergrad years that lead him to Callen-Lorde by the end of his undergrad career.

Callen-Lorde has been around for about fifty years, it started as a volunteer organization evolved into what they are now; the global leader in LGBTQ+ healthcare since the days of Stonewall. They are a Community Health Center that provides sensitive, quality health care and related services targeted to New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities — in all their diversity — regardless of ability to pay.

Five years ago, they were only in one location and now they have three different locations (South Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn), substantiating their commitment to addressing the needs of the LGBTQ+ communities.

At Callen-Lorde, Jonathan facilitates the operations meeting where the interdisciplinary team gets together and brainstorm ideas on how to improve the needs of the community; what are we doing? what services are there? He also manages the federal grant that allows the organization to expand. He began managing the fund when they opened in the Bronx; Callen-Lorde is a recipient of the Needs Access Point fund from HRSA and Jonathan manages this grant in order for Callen-Lorde to provide services in the streets for the people who need it. While it may be time-consuming and takes a lot of manpower; Jonathan feels really fortunate to work with an amazing interdisciplinary team that is equally passionate about getting the services out there.

It is especially rewarding when folks see me and recognize me as being a part of Callen-Lorde and will just come up to me and say to me you guys saved my life I think that when folks are not used to being respected in a medical/clinical environment and then when they are, they are more likely to start taking care of themselves. Santos-Ramos pointed out that's what Callen-Lorde is there for.

In the scope of what Callen-Lorde is there for; a medical mobile unit was introduced in September that is essentially a clinic wheels. This allows Jonathan and his cohorts at Callen-Lorde to get out to folks, folks who are mainly on the streets or who are experiencing some type of homelessness. With this, they are able to provide the same services in their Brick and Mortar, out onto the streets. We really try to reach and go anywhere that we think we might be of service. There is also the New Community Interdisciplinary Initiative; an Integrated Health Care Model which allows everyone involved in a patient's medical care to be in the same Admin space; this is Connecting everything from physical care to mental care. According to our modern-day Storm, this encourages a well-needed dialogue across the disciplines, from medical to behavioral health. Jonathan and the good people at Callen-Lorde are diligently figuring out how are the different ways we can treat the whole person? We've always known that we need to treat the whole person, but we never got to the How in a cost-effective way?

Jonathan Santos-Ramos is undoubtedly changing the climate of Healthcare for those disenfranchised. For this, he identifies mostly with the Superhero Storm, saying, … it doesn't matter how I'm feeling even on a sunny day, I'm good, I can make anything happen. We can clearly see that he is committed to manipulating and reforming the patterns of a balanced system.

He is not only a superhero in his field, bringing the services to the streets, he is also a superhero at home. A native of Puerto Rico, he is acutely aware of the devastation the island has been through and does his part to make sure that the people at home know that the ones in the States are still thinking about them and are there to help.

While the work of a superhero is never done, Jonathan, on his downtime, likes to shut down by watching a football game and knitting. this is something that he used to do with his grandmother and has now become a habit.

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