Health Care Hero: Doctor caring for underserved takes time to listen to patients

Todd Kepler
Caption
Todd Kepler

The Dayton Daily News is profiling the people who work hard every day to save lives and take care of us. Nominate a Health Care Hero by emailing Rebecca.Mullins@coxinc.com.

Name: Todd Kepler, DO

Hometown (where you live now): Kettering

Job title: Southwest Ohio Medical Director

Where do you work: Equitas Health

COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Describe what your day is like/what you do: As a family physician, I see patients two days a week in our Dayton clinic. Our mission is to deliver great health care to those at risk of or affected by HIV, for the LGBTQ community, and for those seeking a welcoming home. Our passion is serving underserved communities and, in addition to those groups mentioned, we provide access to health care for people of color. This is a group disproportionately affected by COVID-19. We realized early in the pandemic that our patients would need continuity of care in order to address their needs, and we were able to pivot from traditional office visits to telehealth visits in 10 days. I'm very proud that we at Equitas Health were able to accomplish that. The rest of my week is spent in refining processes within our clinics, collaborating with our nurse practitioners, sharing my knowledge and experience in order to improve health outcomes, and overseeing care delivery in our Dayton and Cincinnati clinics.

Health Care Hero: ‘I really love my job’

What inspired you to get into health care? I had a sister who died when I was 5 years old, and that was very traumatic to my family. I realized that I could make the most impact in helping families through such events as a physician, and specifically in family medicine. I absolutely love my profession, and have no regrets about my choice.

What's a memorable experience you've had in health care? I gave a lot of thought to this question, and came up with numerous examples, which made it difficult to choose. However, I realized there were some common threads. The most memorable experiences I have had occurred when patients told me they were heard. Patients have stories to tell. It is through those stories I learn about their health care problems, and how psycho-social factors in their lives play a role. When we take the time to listen, we can truly meet the patient where they are.

Health Care Hero: ‘I became a nurse to make a difference’

What do you want readers to know about your job right now? We at Equitas Health have been able to transform our health care delivery to telehealth, which provides safety for both our patients and staff. We have been able to continue caring for our patients, many in underserved communities who have few, if any, options for health care. In addition, since we have been able to provide continuity of care during the height of the pandemic, we have been able to address the fears that many of our patients have surrounding the pandemic. Personally, that is very satisfying.