Who was he?

Paul Ramos (1941-2000)

Paul was a visionary and staunch advocate of affordable health care and social justice for all regardless of their status in life. As founder and Executive Director of Betances Health Center, Paul worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of the Lower East Side - and beyond - to meet the desperate need for accessible quality health care and social services. Paul founded Betances in 1970, and initially ran the agency out of a makeshift office above a pickle factory, delivering health services from a mobile medical unit. Largely through Paul's determination and hard work, Betances found a permanent home on Henry Street in the Lower East Side, one of New York City's most diverse immigrant communities, where it has become one of the leading comprehensive primary care facilities serving poor and low income community members. Paul guided Betances' accomplishments and status as an early provider of "culturally competent, holistic" care long before the terms became buzzwords over the center's four decade history. Over the center's history, many came to see Paul as a modern day incarnation of the agency's namesake, Ramon Emeterio Betances, a 19th century Puerto Rican physician and poet known as the "Father of the Poor", who received a medical degree in Europe and then returned to Puerto Rico to found a hospital, defend the island against a cholera epidemic, and fight against slavery.