Oestreich tirelessly volunteers in retirement

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Guest Columnist

“I’ve always enjoyed volunteering. It gives me the opportunity to give back what I have been so fortunate to receive. Through several medical missions in Africa, it opened my eyes to those with less resources which was of no fault of their own. It brings me joy to provide for those in need. In the current medical climate, caring for the patient can be lost amongst the paper/computer work. Volunteering at the Community of Hope Health Clinic provides me with the real sense of what practicing medicine means to me. It is both an art and a science.”

Oestreich

Those are the words of retired physician Lisa Oestreich, who volunteers her time at Community of Hope Health Clinic (CHHC). Dr. Oestreich began volunteering when the clinic opened in 2008.  Now at 62 years old, Oestreich, a board-certified neurologist, continues to volunteer at the clinic despite retiring from UAB in 2017.

Located in Pelham, CHHC is a medical mission that provides non-emergent medical care to Shelby County adults who have no health insurance and whose household income is at or below 200% of the poverty level.

“Ever since I began volunteering at the CHHC, I remain amazed at the dedication, support and quality of care the clinic provides,” she said.

Other than four paid employees, the clinic is run completely by volunteers. This includes nurses, interpreters and a variety of other clerical staff.  It is funded through donations and Baptist Hospital in Shelby County.

Oestreich was born and raised on Long Island, New York. She earned her medical degree from the University of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines, Iowa in 1987, followed by a four-year neurology residency at Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  She continued her training at the University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital where she completed a two-year fellowship in epilepsy. She stayed on faculty at the University of Rochester for several more years until she came to Alabama and worked at UAB until 2017.

I found neurology fascinating. It resembles detective work by taking patient’s various signs, symptoms and situations and with the working knowledge of the human brain, body and other factors, then putting it all together for a final solution.

Dr. Oestreich enjoys retired life with her husband Bart Guthrie. She dabbles in photography, enjoys horseback riding, gardening, painting and whatever else she can get her hands on.

“I like to create and repurpose things,” she said.

Oestreich plans to continue to volunteer at the CHHC as this is her passion to provide for those in need.