CMA Doc: Enrique Gonzalez-Mendez, M.D.

September 15, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Cultural Competency Family Medicine 


Name: Enrique Gonzalez-Mendez, M.D.
City: Santa Rosa
Specialty: Family Medicine
Member Since 2000

This profile was exerpted from an article in the SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT (By Karen Hart):


Enrique Gonzalez-Mendez developed a strong desire to help people while growing up in Mexico City. Now, as a family physician in Santa Rosa and a clinical professor at UCSF, he funnels that inclination into treating his patients and teaching other doctors how to honor the cultural needs of the underserved.


His specialty is known in the industry as “cultural competency,” or delivering health care that honors a patient’s social, cultural, linguistic and spiritual needs, a national concern these days because of the challenges it poses.


Every culture has a system of beliefs to explain what causes illness and how it’s treated; the trust and rapport patients have with their doctor goes a long way toward helping them recover.


For more than 30 years, Gonzalez-Mendez has been crossing that divide in Santa Rosa, seeing low-income patients at the Vista Family Health Center and modeling cultural competency for medical students affiliated with the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency, sponsored by Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital and affiliated with UCSF.


“In Latin America, we think with magic realism,” he said. “That is part of how we conduct our lives, and the cure for some (ailments) is to talk with a healer and establish a relationship to determine what is going on.”


In America, disease is mostly viewed as a result of scientific phenomenon, and treatment usually involves a prescription or a procedure. But if you’ve been told that colds are caused by “catching a chill” when you go outdoors with wet hair or without a coat, you can understand the power of culture-based beliefs...


Read more about Dr. Gonzalez-Mendez's inspiring story in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.


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