UNION — Hurricane Maria affected 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico when it swept through the island. More than 4,600 people were killed, thousands were displaced from their homes, most people didn’t have electricity, and the island was left with $94 million worth of damage.
In September 2017, Dayhana Pena-Santiago, MD, served on the front lines as a physician, helping care for people after the Category 5 hurricane. Today, she brings that care and love of community service to Union, where she is the newest doctor at Union Medical Center — Center for Family Medicine.
While practicing medicine in Puerto Rico with her fellow physicians, she would care for displaced residents at hurricane shelters.
“We would travel and set up clinics in the communities. It was a difficult setting to provide care, because it was all makeshift,” said Dr. Pena-Santiago. “It was all about helping the patients with their most basic needs.”
Dr. Pena-Santiago and her peers cared for patients this way for two months before they were able to return to their traditional doctor’s office.
In her own home, Dr. Pena-Santiago was without power for a month and pulled together with her coworkers and neighbors to conserve food and gas. She didn’t mind the inconveniences; Dr. Pena-Santiago was just happy to care for others in need.
“With medicine, you forget about yourself,” she said.
She is bringing this philosophy to the Upstate as she starts at Union Medical Center — Center for Family Medicine. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Dr. Pena-Santiago has a passion for caring for underserved populations.
“During my residency in Puerto Rico, I cared for underserved populations and Union is very similar,” she said. “I like to contribute to the community in a positive way.”
She went into medicine because it gave her the opportunity to help people.
“For me, medicine is about caring for others,” she said. “I like to see people as a whole and take care of them. With family medicine, you’re able to create a long-standing relationship with that person.”
To make an appointment with Dayhana Pena-Santiago, MD, at Union Medical Center — Center for Family Medicine, call 864-429-8029. The practice is located at 322 W. South St. in Union.
Jessica Pickens is Media Relations Coordinator for Marketing and Public Relations for the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.