Feast of Saint Luke Honors Legacy of Beloved Loyola Professor
Bolivian Clinic Awarded
Taking a year off from medical school to work in a South American clinic isn’t a common practice for most medical students.
“A lot of medical students hesitate to do a year-long thing, because it’s adding on a year of medical school,” said Andrea Escobar.
For Escobar, it’s one of the main reasons she chose to attend Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine in the first place.
“I heard about this program when I was applying to medical schools and I liked that it was a whole year, instead of just a weeklong,” said Escobar. “I felt like maybe I could help with more long-term care.”
The rural health care clinic in Bolivia is one of the most prominent legacies of Susan Hou, MD, who passed away in July 2019. She co-founded it in 2001, alongside her husband, Mark Molitch, MD, and Bolivian endocrinologist, Douglas Villaroel, MD. Dr. Hou, a nephrologist, went above and beyond, dedicating those years to serving the Bolivian community by organizing transplants and importing medicine, all while continuing her practice and teaching in Maywood.
“Dr. Hou always put human rights above all other things. She was a giant in a small body,” said Amy Blair, MD, director of the Center for Community and Global Health (CCGH).
Dr. Hou joined the Stritch School of Medicine faculty in 2000 as a professor of medicine with a concentration in kidney transplantation. She directed the Loyola Medicine kidney transplant program for 13 years. A champion of living donation, she donated her own kidney to a dialysis patient in 2003.
She lived the Jesuit mission of social justice in everything she did.
“Dr. Hou always put human rights above all other things. She was a giant in a small body.”
From the remote village of Palacios to the urban landscape of Maywood, Illinois, her memory still lingers in both communities, reflecting the legacy she leaves behind. Eighteen years after its start, Dr. Hou’s biggest undertaking is being recognized with the Jack MacCarthy Service in Medicine Award.
Jack MacCarthy, MD, was a Norbertine priest and physician who graduated from Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine in 1977. Over the past several decades, Dr. MacCarthy has dedicated his life to service of the poor in the most remote corner of the Peruvian Amazon, eventually building a regional hospital for the villages in the area. Named in his honor, the Service in Medicine Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates the embodiment of medicine as an act of faithful service and whose work in medicine aligns with the Catholic vision, mission, and gospel of service.
According to Dr. Blair, no one’s work was more deserving of the award, than Dr. Hou.
“Never did I see her waver from her human rights approach to global health," said Dr. Blair. "She really embodied the social justice mission we talk about so much at Loyola.”
With her passing, the awards committee felt it only made sense to bestow the honor to the clinic she helped establish. At the Feast of Saint of Luke on October 16, 2019, Bolivian clinic fellows, like Escobar, gathered to share their memories of the Centro Médico Humberto Parra clinic and, of course, Dr. Hou.
“Even though Dr. Hou won’t be there to get the Jack MacCarthy award, hopefully she’ll be there in spirit,” said Escobar, a 2018 Bolivian fellow.