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Departmental Spotlight: Margarita Rodriguez

About 40 years ago, Charles Richard Stasney, MD, received a phone call from a colleague in the Harris County Medical Society. They had a young physician from Mexico who needed a job while she took the licensing exam. Dr. Stasney agreed to hire the young woman, Margarita Rodriguez. While she never became a practicing physician, she was, Dr. Stasney says, a godsend to him and his practice. “Margarita made me good,” Dr. Stasney said. “For 35 years, I looked for a fault in that lady, and I never found it. She is the most conscientious human being I have ever known and probably the finest human being I have ever met, outside of my family. Really, to say she's extraordinary is a gross understatement.”
Margarita Rodriguez
Dr. Stasney said Rodriguez made patients and patient care the center of his practice. “If I told her I didn’t want to see any old ladies with vertigo, she asked me ‘What if it were your mother? Wouldn’t you want someone to take care of her?’ She decided which patients we wrote off. We never charged priests or physicians families or anyone like that. It only hurt my bottom line, and Margarita would stay in the office until 7:30 on a Friday night to do the paperwork if it were a new patient.” Dr. Stasney and Rodriguez worked together 35 years in his private practice and later when Dr. Stasney founded the Texas Voice Center at Houston Methodist. After Dr. Stasney retired, Rodriguez became Dr. Apurva Thekdi’s medical assistant. “Margarita is an amazing person,” said Dr. Thekdi. “She came here and started working as a medical assistant, which she’s clearly overqualified to do. She’s smart, but when she started having children, she put off retaking her medical exam, and by then, it just got to be too late. But she would have been the best physician ever.” Rodriguez is a humble and devout person who prefers to focus on the work she has helped physicians carry out. She was born in the U.S. but moved to Mexico with her family as an infant. She attended medical school and completed her training there. When Mexico’s economy cratered in 1982, she and her husband came to the U.S. She trained a lot in obstetrics, and loved it, she says. She was looking for a job with an OB/GYN and was offered a position with a doctor who performed abortions, and she did not want to be in that situation. A recruiter asked her if she was interested in ENT, and she thought, well, why not? “I never saw ear, nose and throat in my future, but I guess God had different plans for me. He put me in the right place, and I ended up loving my career and I think it's just beautiful, a blessing,” she said. Rodriguez says her job requires her to prep patients for procedures, and she does anything that is involved with patients. She explains to them what will happen so they understand the process. She thinks of herself as an educator who takes care of the patients. “You know, usually when you do procedures, the patients don't know what to expect. They are kind of frightened, and so you explain to them what needs to be done,’ she said. “She loves what she does. She has a real passion for it,” said Dr. Thekdi. “She really is an unbelievable person. You could ask any of the physicians or staff that work here, and they will say the same thing.”