Coastside physician’s exemplary service to our community

By on Wed, June 17, 2009

The longest-serving private physician on the Coastside not only runs, but is expanding, our free Rota Care service, reports Julia Scott in the County Times.

Dr. Josefina Enriquez will never have to worry about going hungry, like some of her patients.

That’s not because she charges an arm and a leg — in fact, she charges many patients nothing at all. In return, they bring her what little payment they can afford: the fruits of their labor on the Coastside.

"That’s how I survive. I don’t have to go to the market. The only thing I buy is milk because the fishermen give me fish, and the people who work in the fields give me vegetables, and tomatoes, and lemons," said Enriquez, pulling a bag of lemons out from under her desk on a recent visit to her private practice in Half Moon Bay. "What can you do? They don’t have any money, and I promised to follow the Hippocratic oath; and if somebody is ill, you have to help them."

Being flexible about payment is just one of the ways Enriquez — also known as "Dr. Joy" — has endeared herself to legions of patients and kept herself in business since 1982, making the 69-year-old grandmother the longest-serving private physician on the coast. But it doesn’t explain how she has managed to serve a staggering annual case load of 5,000 patients — 85 percent of them uninsured or dependent on low-income state or county care — while maintaining her sanity, making a profit, and finding time to run a free RotaCare clinic on the side.