Judith Flores, M.D., wanted to become a "doctora" for as long as she can remember. It was the highest achievement she could imagine, and she wanted to help make a difference in the lives of the people in the Hispanic community. She has done exactly that, developing an award-winning bilingual, bicultural asthma management program that reached out to New York City's Hispanic community in Brooklyn. The program has improved the quality of life for people with asthma and reduced the severity of asthma attacks.
Judith Flores graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1976. She specialized in pediatrics, and was a resident at New York's Montefiore Hospital. From 1979 to 1981 she was a clinical instructor for the New York Medical College Department of Pediatrics, where she worked with pregnant substance abusers and their families. In 1984, Flores joined Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn where she became assistant director of the Department of Ambulatory Care. In 1986 she was named associate director, and acting director in 1989.
Since 1994, Dr. Flores has been director of the chronic disease management program at Sunset Park Health Center Network at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, where she developed and directed the network's first disease management program for patients with asthma and diabetes. She supervised an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurse case managers, health educators, and community outreach workers in response to the community's dire need: the Sunset Park asthma population had escalated 38 percent in just two years, and the hospitalization rate for children was almost four times the national average.
Dr. Flores initiated a self-management program for children with asthma. She designed and directed a bilingual and bicultural program for family and patient education to respond to South Park's predominantly Hispanic population. The program adopted hospital-wide standards of care and also included home visits to assess the child's environment. The program won the C. Everett Koop National Health Award for 1997 and the 2001 Asthma and Allergy Foundation Innovations in Care Award.
While serving in her current role at Sunset Park Health Center Network, Dr. Flores also works with the Agency for Children's Services. "Where I come from, being a 'Doctora' was the highest achievable and mostly unattainable goal. I can't remember wanting anything so much. I wanted to be a pediatrician even before I could spell it! It combined working with kids to help them feel better with the challenge and excitement of science...My mother raised me to have no doubt that I would succeed. In retrospect, this was amazing considering the circumstances."