Dr. Mylene Rucker, 76 (CoSH), 86 (CoM Medical Education)Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Dr. Mylene Rucker has a generous spirit. When the daughter of an employee was diagnosed with leukemia, Rucker offered to host a yard sale in the parking lot of her wellness center in Visalia. This fundraiser on Nov. 15 also included a bounce house, and pizza and tacos were sold. They raised $1,500. “It was almost like a little fair,” Rucker said. “A lot of my patients are very giving.”
Four times a year, Rucker, a family practice physician, sets up a free health care screening clinic in Allensworth where she treats mostly farmworkers. She takes a staff of two to three medical assistants, and her son, Kweku Middleton, helps move equipment.They see about 15 patients each visit.
“I see myself as a community physician,” she said. “You go out and reach the community and make the world a better place to live.” Each time she visits Allensworth, it costs her $1,000. “Nobody pays me,” she said. “Not even a penny.” In Allensworth, she has diagnosed some cancers and a lot of diabetes. “Many didn’t know they had it,” she said.
“I’m a very community-oriented person,” she said. “I had a hard time myself.” She raised her son and daughter as a single mother. She left her alcoholic husband in Chicago and moved back to Los Angeles with two children and two 6-foot lockers. During an economic recession in the late 1970s, she couldn’t find work. So she took advantage of a government program that paid for her child care and purchased her uniforms while she studied to become a physician assistant at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
As a physician assistant, she worked with child-abuse victims at Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital in Watts. She said she remembers her young patients crying, and she cried with them. At 32, she began medical school at Drew and became a family practice doctor. Later, she earned her master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.
She moved to Visalia in 1998 as a visiting doctor to be near her nephew, Jeremiah, who now lives in Fresno. Four years ago, she built the wellness center at 2305 Midvalley Ave. She cares for 2,000 patients and serves as the di-rector of community medicine at Kaweah Delta Medical Center under Dr. Robert Allen.
Next door to her office is a community garden that she started with Sister Friends, a nonprofit organization of six women. Rucker said she works in the garden because it’s therapeutic. “It calms my nerves,” she said.
Article reprinted with permission, Visalia Times-Delta. Copyright ? 2013 www.visaliatimes.delta.com