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2 Doctors Take a Shot at a Huge Challenge: Serving the Needy

POINTS WEST

December 01, 2002|Steve Lopez

I accompanied Morris on a home visit to 104-year-old Etta Jones in Lafayette Square. Jones, who often exclaims to Morris, "Lord Jesus, I need some doctoring," was doing better this day. Morris put a stethoscope to her chest and said:

"Sounds like a Cadillac with 20,000 miles on it."

Next we called on a blind man in the Baldwin Hills district known as the Jungle, and young kids in bright red jackets eyeballed us as if we were undercover cops. This is one of the reasons Morris' mother sometimes asks when she's moving back home to Palo Alto.

It ain't going to happen, Ma.

"I have moments when I feel frustrated," Morris says, "But when I see these people handle crisis with such poise and grace, and with great resiliency under stress, I trust that we're in the right spot and that we're doing the right thing."

Lee had known he wanted to be a doctor in a black community since he was a boy in Kansas. He says he and his family had to wait until their doctor saw all the white patients before he'd treat them, which usually meant "tossing some pills at us."

"Although there are a lot of obstacles, it's been worth it," says Lee.

"The idea was to treat people who don't always have access to quality care. We aren't going to get rich at it, but we're here and we're not leaving."

*

Steve Lopez writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at steve.lopez@latimes .com.

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