Jean-Bernard Poulard, M.D., likely will spend the rest of his medical career serving minority communities. “I always had it in my heart to work in Queens,” he says of New York City’s largest and most ethnically diverse borough. “My family and my wife’s family live and receive care in Queens. It is a minority community and I wanted to help.” That desire “to help” goes beyond caring for the sick. “I pride myself as a model for others in my communities and for how we treat others. I can advocate and set by example. Students see me give the best that I can give in terms of health care, no matter what you come from or what you look like. My biggest career achievement is treating people with respect,” he explains.
Born in Haiti, Dr. Poulard graduated from the State University of New York College of Medicine in Syracuse in 1978, trained in general surgery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., pursued further training in colon and rectal surgery under a post-residency fellowship at the Jewish Hospital of Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo., and completed M.B.A. studies with emphasis on health care administration. Today, he is the deputy medical director for Queens Health Network, practicing general and colorectal surgery, and the patient safety officer at Queens Hospital Center. “Rectal cancer is as common in the minority community as in nonminority communities,” Poulard says. “The difference, until recently, is that patients in minority communities came in at a stage where there was a lower chance of recovery. Over the past ten years, there has been more screening, education and more of a push toward education.”
Medicine as a career seemed a given for Poulard. “My father was administrator for the general hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After school for three or four years, I hung out at the hospital and got lots of exposure. I always thought I’d work in a hospital in some capacity.” His work includes an active clinical practice, seeing patients in the outpatient department at Queens Hospital and performing procedures and operations in colon and rectal surgery. “Over the past three years, my interest has been in performance improvement, high-quality reliable care, breaking down barriers to disparity in care, engaging and empowering staff for safe and continuous personal and teamwork improvement,” he says. To that end, he chaired the Performance Improvement Committee at Queens Hospital Center, sharing responsibility for improvement initiatives, quality reviews and preparation for accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and, as cancer liaison physician, by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission
Devoted to the country of his birth, he is active in the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad and served as its vice president until recently. The group works in conjunction with the Haitian health system, including conducting a visiting lectureship program at the local medical school, working with hospitals, restoring libraries
and raising funds. “We continue to find ways, on their terms,
to help build the health system. The need is so great that it never seems as if it’s enough,” Poulard says.
He is also active in the New York Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the Queens County Medical Society. Yet Poulard wishes he could be “more involved — being able to influence and reach a lot more; giving greater opportunities to young people and the underprivileged; to influence more people with more access to education.” He therefore has no plans to stop or slow his involvement in medicine anytime soon. He confesses: “I love what I do. I look forward to going to work. I am privileged to work for the underprivileged. Some of my family gets care where I work. There is work to be done, but I trust my colleagues and
am proud of our values and ethics.
I feel respected and am very happy to be able to continue to work for the better. We’re not wasting resources and are helping people.”