Dr. Richard Izquierdo – affectionately known as “Doc” – was born in East Harlem on October 23, 1929, to Serafin and Sinda Izquierdo, one of New York City’s original “bodegueros.” Doc’s dedication has always been to serve the medical needs of his community. For many years, he was one of the few doctors in the community. He became an icon for the neighborhood and a person that was always sought out. He truly became “The Urban Country Doctor.”
He and his wife Adelita were married in 1954. Doc graduated from University of Lausanne Medical School in Switzerland in 1957, and completed his internship and residency programs in pediatrics at Fordham Hospital and post-graduate courses at New York University. In 1962, he opened his first practice on Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, two blocks from where he grew up.
In 1967, he was appointed by Borough President Herman Badillo to be the first chairman of the newly formed Community Planning Board. He also served as the Chairman of the 41st Precinct Community Council for fourteen years.
That same year, Doc purchased an abandoned building on Southern Boulevard and Westchester Avenue with a down payment of $3000 to create the San Juan Health Center. The “San Juan Health Center,” operated until 1974, when it became Urban Health Plan, Inc., a federally qualified community health center licensed by New York State. Today Urban Health Plan is one of the largest health centers in New York State.
Doc has served on numerous and varied organizations. He hosted a radio program called “Puerto Rican Panorama” on NBC and interviewed over 150 prominent Puerto Ricans. He has been an active member of the Bronx Medical Society and the Medical Society of the State of New York, as well as the Spanish American Medical-Dental Society since 1962.
He has served on the board of the Association for the Help of Retarded Children for over 20 years. This recognizes the needs of children with special needs and developmental disabilities and honors the memory of Jackie, Doc’s third child who was born with Down’s Syndrome.
On January 23, 2007, Doc was awarded the Surgeon General’s Medallion from the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, This award is the highest honor that the Surgeon General can bestow on a civilian or officer. Doc was Dr. Carmona’s childhood doctor and his lifelong personal mentor. In 2013 he received the Dr. Jack Geiger Award from the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS). In 2016, he was awarded the Maclovio Barraza Award for Leadership from UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza). The award recognizes those who have worked for the betterment of the Hispanic community at the grassroots level and whose leadership has served as a source of strength and support to the Hispanic community.
One of Doc’s dreams was to provide a quality education to free the children of the South Bronx from the bonds of poverty and provide quality health care to the community. In September 2010, his dream was fulfilled with the opening of the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School. The school is the first charter school in New York City to offer a Career and Technical Education program geared specifically toward preparing students for jobs in the health care sector, including Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification.