People that have followed my articles and essays might recall a story I wrote back in May of 2009, titled “The Coffeehouse Pediatrician”. The article was about my brief encounters with Pierrette Mimi Poinsett MD. I met her not in her office. Rather, I first met Mimi (as she calls herself) at a coffeehouse in Petaluma, California. She was behind the counter pouring hot cups of Peet’s Coffee and serving pastries. I struck up a conversation with her and eventually she shared with me that she is a board certified pediatrician.
Dr. Mimi’s story is complex. Essentially, her son Joshua became ill and due to the cruelty of the American health insurance industry, she lost her home and medical practice. Eventually, Mimi found herself nearly bankrupt, unemployed and homeless. However, her son was now qualified for public health care assistance.
Josh later became eligible for the Medicaid. Dr. Mimi sacrificed everything for her son and for that she was honored as “Mother of the Year” by the liberal website My Left Wing. Her story was also featured in a few news articles, including American Medical News and on CNN radio.
After I wrote the coffeehouse story, we loosely kept in touch with each other. Life continues to be a struggle for her, although things do seem to be improving. Mimi has moved in with her boyfriend, who appears to be a very nice man, and Josh is receiving long term treatment.
The one thing I find amazing about Mimi is just how confident and positive she has been throughout her whole ordeal. She credits much of her inner strength to practicing Nichiren Buddhism. She also is a social powerhouse. Mimi is a blogger and has a serious Tweeter following. She is working on a business plan to provide aid in helping people to navigate our nightmare health care system and advocates for families with children with mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities. For her advocacy and work using social media for social justice, Dr. Mimi was honored this month by Global Exchange .
This year, I was blessed to share my Thanksgiving meal with her. I asked Dr. Mimi about all the stories and accolades she has been receiving for her courage and social justice work. In typical Mimi fashion, she expressed both a bit of surprise and honest humility. However, after some small talk, she said that while all the praise is nice, “I really just need a job. I need to have my own money. Do you know what I mean?”
I heard this loud and clear. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go without steady work for more than two years. How, in spite of all her personal challenges, she can remain such a positive and inspirational person is beyond me. All I can say is that I have been fortunate to know such a beautiful, intelligent, loving, and compassionate person.
My impression of Mimi is that she is a kind, yet clear eyed mother figure. The kind of woman the leads people because she is able to take care of them. And more importantly, people value and trust her wisdom.
So I say to my friend, Congratulations Pierrette Mimi Poinsett MD for your Global Exchange recognition! I thank you for your inspiration and wise leadership. And even though I’m not a religious man, it’s the holidays so what the hell, I PRAY you will soon be able to get back to getting PAID for doing the work you are gifted at and love; taking care of other people. Bless you Dr. Mimi, and all those you help!