Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, BMO has been working hard to support our clients, helping them secure PPP loans and working with them on solutions for navigating the crisis.
Dr. Victor Salazar-Calderón is one of those clients. Originally from Peru, he came to the United States in 1984. He was a practicing neurologist in his home country, and upon his arrival in the U.S. he did research, internship and medical residency before opening a neurology practice in Arizona in 1989. He’s always made it a priority to support his community – and he’s stepped it up during the pandemic.
“I chose this location because I love this place, and because people here need physicians,” says Dr. Salazar-Calderón. “There are a lot of minority patients here and unfortunately, there is a disparity of care in this country. I wanted to make a difference. That’s why me and my colleagues formed the Arizona Latin American Medical Association (ALMA).”
Supporting the community
Dr Salazar-Calderón is the co-founder, past chairman, and currently a board member of ALMA, which works to facilitate access to health care for Arizona residents. They encourage the participation of Latinos in health care, and provide continuing education and support for health care professionals. ALMA also provides scholarships every year for Latino/Latina students looking to pursue careers in health care.
“I am proud of my Hispanic heritage, and have always been involved in my community,” says Dr. Salazar-Calderón. “I provide free medical care for those with no access to it. And I ensure health care information is available online for Hispanic people in this state.”
Now, during COVID-19, ALMA’s mission is more important than ever. The crisis has disproportionately affected the Hispanic community in the U.S., in part because many in the community are essential workers. Hispanic people are also more likely to have comorbid conditions. Dr. Salazar-Calderón knew that he needed to provide community support that was specific to the crisis.
Providing essential information
At the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Salazar-Calderón and his ALMA colleagues transformed ALMA’s homepage into an information hub. The site outlines important facts about the pandemic in Spanish and English – much of which Dr. Salazar-Calderón translated himself – including symptoms, why you should wear a mask, and where to go to get testing. There is also a list of testing sites for those without insurance, and a 24-hour phone line where a doctor can answer questions in Spanish and English.
Dr. Salazar-Calderón has kept his own practice open during the pandemic. “We closed for a few days, but we reopened our office the week after the pandemic exploded, with every safety measure in place. I wanted to keep seeing patients, because the need is still there,” says Dr. Salazar-Calderón.
Keeping the doors open
Getting a PPP loan – with BMO’s support – helped him keep his clinic doors open. “During these difficult times, Dr. Salazar-Calderón’s worries were about other people – keeping his employees on payroll, and continuing to help patients,” says Juan Andrade, BMO Harris Senior Premier Banker. “That’s who he is. So I felt a sense of responsibility to ensure that we did our part to make sure he could focus on continuing to help those in need.”
“Our overhead is significant,” says Dr. Salazar-Calderón. “The loan gave me the peace of mind I needed to be able to carry on with my work without worrying about having to close my office, cut hours, or lay off my employees. I can maintain a high level of care for my patients – and job security for my staff. It makes all the difference.”
The PPP loan was just one more step in a long partnership with BMO. “I love working with BMO. They really care,” says Dr. Salazar-Calderón, “They take the time to get to know you and give personalized treatment – just like I do with my patients. And that matters more than ever now.”
Visit the ALMA website.
Learn more about BMO’s support of employees, customers and community partners, and how employees are reaching out to their communities.