Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Hector Mateo, MD
Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized from September 15 - October 15
Dr. Hector Mateo, a pulmonary critical care physician, began his career at Southcoast Health 16 years ago. Board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, and critical care, Dr. Mateo practices in Fall River and at all three Southcoast Health Hospitals.
As Southcoast Health celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, Dr. Mateo shares how this time is significant to him, and how his culture has influenced his life both personally and professionally.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to be proud of your heritage and recognize that your culture has value, even in this country which is a melting pot of many cultures,” Dr. Mateo says. “I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, which has its own unique food, music, and a culture of joyous loudness, open curiosity, and warmth towards others.”
“I also view this month as a time to reflect on the cultural similarities and differences of others where we live today,” he says. “When we can, my family and I like to spend time with people who share a similar background, speak Spanish, and eat similar foods. We have friends from different parts of Latin America, and when we are together, there is often much discussion, as we describe words that are similar and yet a little different in each of our native countries. Sharing the same language, we discover the culture sprinkled with all the different nuances depending on geographical origins. I personally see myself as multicultural, as my mother’s side of the family is Italian, and I take particular pride to belonging to the Hispanic melting pot.”
Celebrating his culture at home, Dr. Mateo also brings it with him to the care setting, where he often treats patients who primarily speak Spanish. Dr. Mateo and many others at Southcoast Health are proud to help make care more accessible for this population and continue the critically important work of increasing health equity in our community.
“Being able to discuss care in a patient’s native language means that they often get a better explanation about what’s really going on with them,” Dr. Mateo says. “It’s a standard of care that’s really important to me. Even something as simple as giving instructions in their native language can make all the difference.”
Knowing he wanted to become a doctor from a young age, Dr. Mateo was greatly inspired by his father. In the Dominican Republic, his father became the first cardiologist pioneering the CCU (coronary care unit). He recognized that most of the indigent people there experienced additional obstacles to receiving the same level of care. Noting this discrepancy, he developed a foundation to establish a cardiology teaching hospital that still operates today, providing training in cardiology and high-quality care for all patients.
Dr. Mateo is proud of his father’s accomplishments to improve patient care and utilizes this philosophy of removing obstacles and increasing access to high-quality care in his own interactions with patients.
Thank you, Dr. Mateo!