Dr. Bruno Alvarez – A True Heart of Service

Dr. Bruno Alvarez is a volunteer physician who exemplifies the core values of MLK Health Center. He consistently takes a true patient-centered approach to healthcare. Each appointment begins with a handshake and warm welcome, and after the first visit or two, that handshake fairly often is replaced with a hug.

Patients leave appointments feeling genuinely heard, having experienced Dr. Alvarez’ empathy and respect for their dignity. For example, it is not uncommon to see him take a knee to be at eye level with a patient who is expressing their struggle with diabetes. He goes above and beyond to educate patients about their chronic diseases, answering every question. And as a result, the trust that he has inspired among his patients, individually and collectively, is exceptional.

More broadly, Dr. Alvarez holds a true heart of service for patients and everyone on the care team. He is intentional about fostering collegiality in every relationship. Those who work beside him know to expect a “hello” to everyone as he enters or “goodbye” as he exits. This may initially seem like a small gesture, but honestly, it is one of many ways in which he conveys the value he places on every relationship at MLK Health Center. 

As Sue Walden, a patient advocate at MLK, said recently, “That’s the way medicine is supposed to be.” 

What inspires you about MLK Health Center's mission?

MLK Health Center plays a unique role in our community. It provides healthcare for those who are unable to afford it, addressing common chronic problems like hypertension or diabetes. That alone is already remarkable. However, over 30 years, MLK has established itself as a reference point for people who otherwise feel disenfranchised, empowering healing relationships beyond a simple medication regimen to strengthen agency and trust. We could attribute it all to the nutrition classes, physical therapy, grocery tours, or the beautiful (and educational) garden the staff works to maintain. Still, it comes down to the organization and the people working there. They genuinely live their mission, and I cannot help but be inspired by their compassion and work ethic.

In what ways do you personally gain purpose from the work you do for MLK Health?

Acknowledging our larger role in the community always keeps me grounded while driving to the Health Center, even if it’s already been a long day by the time I get there. I am exceptionally energized about taking care of my patient cohort, some of whom I have come to know closely over time and many of whom are Hispanic. The opportunity to have even a limited impact on the Hispanic community through my role at MLK has become part of my identity. Moreover, understanding the value we provide to everyone we serve and how I can contribute is why most of us go into Medical School in the first place.

What shorter- and longer-term goals keep you passionate and motivated to continue working with them?

One of the shorter-term goals that we have started discussing is diabetic foot health. Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic amputation in this country, and most of our patients depend on their ability to maintain an income to keep their families afloat. Optimal diabetes control remains the priority, but by developing an education and screening protocol, we can identify those at the highest risk of complications. As patients lose sensation attributable to diabetes nerve damage, one can try to limit the chances that unattended wounds progress to amputations. 

Regarding long-term goals, I would like to continue working with MLK leadership to improve community health in our area, particularly Hispanic health. This might include recruiting more providers to our roster or further community outreach efforts. Regardless, I am confident that the leadership and every team member in this organization will continue their efforts to improve Northwest Louisiana’s health. I want to be a part of it.