Myron Glick : A family physician and Medical officer at Jericho Road
By Rubens Mukunzi and Allan Mendoza
Dr. Myron Glick and his wife started Jericho Road back in 1997. At the time, it was just a little part of the current building on Barton Street. They had to get money from a bank to start the place and it started as a private business. Their goal was to serve those who needed health care the most. Glick’s faith is very important to him and he believes that if Jesus was a doctor today, he would care especially about the poor and people who are most vulnerable.
From the beginning, 20 years ago, Glick and his wife worked hard to serve people on the West Side of Buffalo and now they’ve spread out through all of Buffalo to serve those who needed health care the most—some who couldn’t afford to pay and those who didn’t have health insurance. “At the time it was me, my wife, a part-time nurse and front office person. The first week we saw three patients. Today, 20 years later we’ve grown tremendously,” Glick said.
Today, Jericho Road has 28 doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and counselors. Every year the clinic takes in 17,000 different patients, and the staff sees those patients 60,000 times a year. Part of those visits are at the Barton Street site on the West Side and Jericho Road owns another office on Genesee Street on the East Side. Next year, Jericho Road will open an office on Broadway-Fillmore right next to the Market.
Five years ago, Jericho Road started following their friends back home to their countries. The clinic has a fully-functional health center in Sierra Leone and Goma in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and next year they might start up a health center in Nepal next year and hopefully someday in Burma.
People often think Jericho Road focuses on refugees and immigrants. Is that right?
I guess half our patients are refugees and immigrants. That still means there are over 30,000 visits a year from people who have grown up here in Buffalo. We really take care of a wide spectrum of people. People with insurance, also people who are poor and vulnerable who have always lived in Buffalo. People who came here as refugees and immigrants [who] have now started their own businesses and are doing well. People who have just come off the plane as new refugees. We take care of people who are homeless.
What does your day look like as a doctor as Jericho Road?
Dr. Myron Glick while the interview in his office at Jericho Road ( Photo Rubens M.)
On a typical day, I will often be in the hospital first because we deliver babies and we also take care of children [there]. I’ll come back to the office and work with my nurse and the staff here and see patients. I usually see about 25-30 patients a day in office. Then, I also help to lead Jericho Road—we now have a staff of almost 300 employees. Part of my job is to help administer our organization but, mostly, I’m seeing patients. We have other people who do a good job of leading our teams. I’m very involved in our global work and I travel quite a bit and enjoy that opportunity.
What were the challenges you faced when you started the organization?
The main challenge was to make it work financially. Having a vision to provide good, excellent health care in an area of the city that is underserved and has a lot of uninsured people and people who struggle to pay for their care. The first ten years were the hardest, but in the last ten years, people, churches and organizations have come along aside us in this vision and today, financially, Jericho Road is succeeding. We’re a federally-qualified community health center, so we get extra resources for uninsured people and those on Medicaid and it really helps us to sustain our work in Buffalo. Our biggest challenge now is sustain our work in other countries and support our work at Vive [Shelter].
There have been with a lot changes after the Trump administration signed a ban on refugees coming into the US. How have these affected you and how have you responded?
According to Dr Glick, the results of the election were devastating to their team, this has affected the number of refugees coming to Jericho Road clinic. ( Photo by Rubens M.)
At Jericho Road, we’re incredibly diverse—our doctors, our staff, our leadership is a diverse team that comes from all over the world. [It also includes] African Americans, Latinos, Anglos. We have Muslims friends who work with us. It’s been a really tough year. The whole election, the talk about bans on Muslims and refugees, the rhetoric, and racial undertones have been really disappointing. The results of the election were devastating to our team. I think there’ve been some ways, of course, it’s affected us [as an organization]. We’ve done the initial refugee health assessments for many of the new refugees that come to Buffalo. This is the first time in twenty years where we’ve had no new refugees to see. Usually this time of the year, we’re busy and don’t have room to put everyone. This year, my refugee clinic is empty. The current president is threatening to decrease the number of new refugees in this coming fiscal year to 15,000. The prior president [allowed] 110,000. That’s a real impact. All the rhetoric about repealing and replacing the affordable health care (ACA), while it hasn’t been done yet, is very concerning to us. Prior to the ACA, about 12% of our patient population was uninsured. Now this year is less than 1%. The worst thing is the conversation on race and it has affected us in many ways. Jericho Road has been strong, but this past year has been difficult.
In twenty years, what is the result of your work with the community?
For sure, Jericho Road has had a community-wide impact, especially in the West Side. I remember what the West Side looked like 20 years ago and it doesn’t look like that today. There’s been a lot of change, and I think Jericho Road deserves a lot of credit for that. We’ve set out to stabilize the community and there’s been real benefit if you look back in history, what were some of the reasons the West Side of Buffalo has turned around? To a certain extent, the work of Jericho Road has been very impactful. But mostly, I measure our impact in just individual lives and families who have been blessed by this work. Not just by me, but so many people here. Our staff, our doctors, [and] our team, every day faithfully give [aid] to people who are struggling and that makes a big difference. Jericho Road does a lot more than health care now. Being that presence in the community had made a huge difference in people’s lives.
You’ve been helping refugees and immigrants improve their lives. Do you think other organizations are helping enough refugees? What are other things refugees and the whole community should be focusing to make their lives better?
What’s most needed are jobs, jobs that will pay them a wage that they can live on. So many of the refugees we take care of go on to school and they’re working. Sometimes they’re working two or three jobs. That’s really tough on their families. We’ve done a lot of good, but we’re not a job-creating organization. The second thing we need is more focus on the educational system for children and high school students [as well as] for those refugees and immigrants who come when they’re 18, 19, 20. They don’t know how to read or write in their own country because they’re fleeing a war and only have a little bit of school. They’re in between—too old to go to high school and don’t know enough English to go to college.
There are some great refugee resettlement agencies. The religious community is pretty strong. There are community organizations, but I think the local and state elected officials, corporations and private industry need to focus on [providing] better and more jobs, better education, and a better policing system. Buffalo is way ahead of a lot of cities, by the way. It has a national reputation for the job that we’re doing for refugees and we need to keep that going. But there’s more we can do and there are still are a lot of people who fall through the cracks.
What does Jericho Road have planned for the future?
The next step in Buffalo’s renaissance is the revitalization of the East Side. There’s a lot of good things happening there, but there’s a lot of opportunity to see development, jobs, housing, and people thrive there. I want to be a part of that with Jericho Road. In Buffalo, there are many young leaders who are coming up in the ranks who could take my place here.
I think, personally, in the next 20 years, there will be more and more of a focus on two things. I’d love to see the national health care system be more just and fair. And so I think I’ve learned a lot the last 20 years and I’d like to think that over the next 20 years I can have a role in helping to make our system here in Buffalo and across the country more just. It’s not easy to change entrenched system, and it’s not easy to see injustices rectified, but I want to be a part of trying.