Dr. David Hayes-Bautista: the prophet of Latino Health.

Author:Jordan, Judi
Position:HEALTH FEATURE - Interview - Cover story

ENTHUSIASTIC, INSPIRING, TIRELESS, proactive, prolific and statistic-savvy, Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, has actively devoted his life to the practical study and application of Latino health and history. The Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, Hayes-Bautista sees each of these qualities as being deeply intertwined. This satisfying quest has filled six books, with another three in the works. Delightfully divergent to many intellectuals, Dr. Hayes-Bautista is an optimist. Part compadre, part 'man of the people' and part avid scholar, he is 'all in' when it comes to Latino health as a future gateway to survival--and power.

"I studied basic sciences at the University California Medical Center in San Francisco," said Hayes-Bautista, who left San Francisco to join the faculty at the School of Public Health in UC Berkeley.

"I received tenure and then was recruited to UCLA, where I am now Distinguished Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine," he said. "I run the Center for Latino Health and Culture, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. We study all different facets of Latino health and try to discover the linkage between daily behavior and health outcome."

With a half century invested in the investigation and improvement of Latino health, no one challenges the credentials of the man; Hayes-Bautista is the preeminent expert. Accordingly, when asked to speak about himself, culture comes first.

"I'm eighth-generation American of Mexican origin," he proudly points out. This is who Hayes-Bautista is above all, and it's why he's the best at what he does.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in California's Central Valley, Hayes-Bautista is a BIG fan of California and vocal on the state's importance as the Latino power seat in the U.S. He graduated from UC-Berkeley and completed his master's and Ph.D. in Medical Sociology at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco. Hayes-Bautista multi-tasked his way through graduate school.

"I graduated from Berkeley in 1970, and got involved in setting up La Clinica de la Raza in Oakland, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary soon," said Hayes-Bautista, who does not come from a medical background.

"Other than the fact that 1 had an aunt in Mexico who was a curandera, and another who was a nurse in Los Angeles, there were no health professionals in the family," he said.

In fact, Hayes-Bautista's foray into medicine in 1970 at La Clinca de la Raza was an eye-opener.

"I got a quick introduction into health care research demography because we had to provide services in the Fruitvale District, and there were almost no medical services," he said. "We decided that we were going to provide medical services and we were going to do them in Spanish, and we were going to do it for free and we had exactly $240 to start with!"

This coincided with Hayes-Bautista's graduate studies at UCSF; his daily activities at the clinic and his basic health sciences studies matured harmoniously.

He's a holistic thinker. "I have always defined health very, very broadly. So it's not simply physical absence of disease; it's...

To continue reading