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Staff Spotlight: Meet Scott Shapiro, Long-time RN at St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic Bringing Ingenuity and Compassion to Meet Patients’ Needs

May 23, 2023

St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic – Whole Person Care is our Top Priority

Throughout the month of May, we will be shining a spotlight on St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic. The bustling clinic overlooking the Golden Gate Greenway provides primary and specialty care to those who need it most in the Tenderloin community, serving nearly 2,500 individuals and families through more than 9,000 visits annually. A critical component of St. Anthony’s broad portfolio of essential and life-changing services, the clinic focuses on patient-centered primary and specialty care, with an emphasis on dignity and access. As the hands below the safety net, the clinic serves a diverse population, with nearly 90% of patients living below the Federal Poverty Level.

Registered nurse, Scott Shapiro

How long have you worked at St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic?   

I started working at the clinic in 2003. So, I’ve been with the clinic for ten years in total. After working at a UCSF satellite clinic in the Tenderloin, I returned to St. Anthony’s in 2018, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

What was it like working at the clinic throughout the pandemic?

COVID-19 was very challenging. At the start of the pandemic, we were unsure about what was happening and tried to provide the best care for our patients. This was at a time when patients were afraid to even touch groceries, so trying to swab them for tests was tough. We did a lot of telephone triage nursing, particularly for many monolingual Hispanic families. So, it was critical to ask the right questions and actively listen to their needs. ‘Who do you live with?’ If they were at home quarantining for the next ten days, it was important to ask, ‘Do you have enough food?’ Just helping them meet their basic needs required a lot of care and attention to detail. We got through it and so did most of our patients, so we all feel very fortunate.

What do you most like about nursing?

I started at the clinic as a medical assistant before I decided to pursue nursing school, so I knew what I was getting into. Nursing school prepares you for working in a hospital, so you are trained in basic things like putting in IVs. Nursing as it’s practiced here in a community clinic, it’s a much bigger scope.

New nurses who come here to work at St. Anthony’s are just blown away by the breadth of our work. Here I see the same patients repeatedly and really get to know them, which is amazing. I’ve known some of our patients for 19 years! And I often get to help them deal with all aspects of their lives. This requires us to be innovative to figure out how to get their various needs met. It’s truly whole-person care.

In nursing school, they don’t teach you what we offer here at St. Anthony’s.

What do you find most challenging?

I think because we’re located in the Tenderloin, folks assume most of our patients are experiencing homelessness. But we mostly see families and many monolingual Spanish-speaking patients, as well as several folks who recently arrive from Thailand, and the Middle East. And many of them have diabetes. So, we have patients who are marginally literate and have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. It’s challenging to manage. Many have pre-conceived notions about taking medications, and sometimes they’ll stop taking them.

So, we offer ongoing education about diet, lifestyle and medication compliance which is critical to helping them thrive. Likewise, building trust and cultivating relationships is vital and a rewarding part of the job.

What do you find most rewarding?

Most patients return like clockwork and getting to know them over many years, sometimes decades, is gratifying. When someone comes in for their three-month diabetes check-up, I’m excited to see them and they’re excited to see me. I’m always interested to hear about, say, the new restaurant where they’re working.

What do you do for fun?

I’m into cars, it’s my hobby. I also like to get out of the city every weekend. I like to go up or down the coast. I collect records, I like to hang out and have drinks with my wife and with friends, etc…

St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic provides primary and specialty care to the Tenderloin community, serving nearly 2,500 individuals and families annually. We are a safety-net clinic, with 70% of our patients living below the Federal Poverty Level. We focus on patient-centered primary care, with an emphasis on access and dignity. We also provide specialty services, including pediatrics, podiatric medicine, and behavioral health.

Your care and compassion help to ensure that everyone in San Francisco has access to health care. Please help us continue uplifting San Franciscans in need with hope, stability and renewal by donating today.

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