"Dr. Joe Kiesler” is a name that means a lot to many people in the Greater Cincinnati region.
As a former UC medical resident, Kiesler joined on as a faculty member following his training to focus on community-oriented primary care, specifically how it pertains to underserved populations and the training of residents in this area.
Kiesler, associate professor in the department of family and community medicine, has been involved in the startup and maintenance of a number of community and internal organizations that provide care to the homeless and underserved and train residents and students to do so as well, including the horse track clinic, providing uninsured, migrant workers with needed medical care, Health Care for the Homeless and the Center for Respite Care.
Now, because of this work, the Center for Respite Care will honor Kiesler at its second annual Transformation Award Ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25.
Kiesler is being recognized "for making a significant difference in the underserved and homeless community.”
Not only has he impacted the health and lives of the underserved in Cincinnati, but he’s also made an impact on physicians like Steven Moore, MD.
Moore, a former UC College of Medicine student who is completing his emergency medicine residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, says Kiesler’s mentorship led him to select an urban hospital that cares for the underserved.
"He mentored a group of us who were involved in the Initiative on Poverty, Justice and Health at UC, and we collectively volunteered at the Center for Respite Care monthly from 2008 through 2012,” he says, adding that he gained a lot of experience talking to patients and learning about their medical history.
Specifically, Moore made a special connection with Serbian refugee Ranko Tepsic, who after suffering persecution and torture in a Croatian detainment camp, escaped to the U.S. in 1999. Tepsic worked full time as a shipping clerk for over eight years, but then a serious leg injury and complications from diabetes led to the amputation of his lower left leg.
Unable to work, Ranko became homeless and was referred to the Center for Respite Care to recover.
"He needed a prosthesis but had no insurance,” says Moore. "Dr. Kiesler had connections and provided a contact with Rick Rocco of Rocco’s Prosthetics who donated a prosthetic leg to Mr. Tepsic. That’s just one example of the kind of things Dr. Kiesler did for his patients.”
Moore says Kiesler took on extra volunteer shifts at the free clinics held within the drop-in homeless shelters if they were shorthanded, and Moore shadowed him during work on the homeless van and the racetrack clinics often.
"He really does some great things for the Cincinnati community and those people who don’t have insurance and who have an injury or a chronic illness,” he says. "He’s a really compassionate man—and he’s everywhere, trying to make a difference.”
Moore adds that he’s at Henry Ford partly because of Kiesler’s guidance.
"Just seeing how well he works patients, particularly underserved populations, really influenced me and the medical track I wanted to take,” he says. "Dr. Kiesler is so modest, and you’ll never see him get frustrated or flustered. He’s a great teacher. I learned so much from him.
"He provided me with an alternative view of health care and helped me realize that it’s not many of these patients’ fault that they do not have health care—it’s often circumstantial. He opened my eyes to this side of health care, and I hope to continue to do that for medical students and other trainees I come across, including finding some volunteer opportunities at the free clinics up here.”