A hometown hero was honored for his achievements in healthcare with a street co-naming.
On Wednesday, May 23, dozens of people gathered at the corner of Westchester Avenue and Southern Boulevard to celebrate the life of Dr. Richard Izquierdo, a family practice specialist.
“This is a dream come true,” said Dr. Izquierdo during the street co-naming ceremony. “I never expected this would happen.”
Dr. Izquierdo, who is referred to by many simply as ‘Doc,’ started serving the Bronx and the Latino community in 1962 when he opened his first practice on Southern Boulevard.
That practice, the San Juan Health Center, grew to become the Urban Health Plan, Inc. just 12 years later.
The honor of having a street co-named or renamed after someone, historically goes to individuals posthumously.
However, Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. wanted to make sure Doc would be recognized while he was still alive.
“It’s important for me and this community that he was honored while still being with us to see it,” said Salamanca, who attributed much of his success to the mentorship and encouragement he received from the doctor.
Dr. Izquierdo’s service in the healthcare industry spans over 60 years, but his commitment to his patients, many agree, have had lifelong impacts.
“You taught me one person could have a huge difference in the lives of so many people,” said president and CEO of UHP, Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, Dr. Izquierdo’s daughter.
Dr. Izquierdo has cared for countless patients, many of whom went on to become well known professionals.
“You always led with integrity and dignity in all that you did,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th surgeon general of the United States, in a letter congratulating Dr. Izquierdo.
In the letter, he explained Dr. Izquierdo had been his childhood doctor and was one of the reasons he too wanted to pursue a career in the medical field.
In 2007, Dr. Carmona even awarded him the Surgeon General’s Medallion, the top honor a surgeon general can give.
He also cared for many elected officials before they rose to the seats they hold today, like Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, according to his father, Councilman Diaz Sr.
“When everyone left the south Bronx, Dr. Izquierdo stayed,” said Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. “The Bronx’s history cannot be written without his name in it.”
“Not only did he not flee, but he got involved,” added longtime friend of Dr. Izquierdo, Jack Flanagan, later in the ceremony.
Flanagan, recalled Izquierdo’s involvement in the 41st Precinct Community Council, trying to help better the relationship between the community and police officers.
In addition to his work as the chairman of that council, in 1967 he was appointed the first chairman of the Community Planning Board by Borough President Herman Badillo.
Among his other acheivements, he has been a member of the Bronx Medical Society, the Medical Society of the State of New York, and the Spanish American Medical-Dental Society.
As Dr. Izquierdo listened to friends, family, and countless other patients and community members share kind words of gratitude for his service, he remarked that his career and life in healthcare had been a fun adventure.