Dr. Ricardo Orlando Dunner was born in Barbados and immigrated to the United States as a young boy. Newly arrived, he remembers, “At PS. 229, my third grade homeroom teacher told me, ‘You can do it!’”
Armed with MD and MPH degrees, Dr. Dunner has devoted his entire medical career to serving some of the most marginalized populations. But, decades later, Dr. Dunner might be facing his biggest challenges yet.
His colleague nurse practitioner, Abigail Flanagan invited him to be lead doctor for a Barnard College and Columbia University student volunteer health mission for Honduran families in January, this year.
For three years, the two had been running Neighborhood and Family Health Center / Casa Maria in the Bronx, educating patients about wellness, nutrition and preventive medicine and treating hep B & C, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and depression. As the physician and medical director, Dr. Dunner says, “We did it all.”
On Jan. 13, as the health mission group returned to the Honduran airport, their filled bus careened into a ravine. Three students, including Dr. Dunner’s workmate, nurse Abigail Flanagan, died.
The doctor suffered innumerable facial fractures, concussions and other serious injuries, and with others who were seriously injured was airlifted out. He is still recovering.
Dr. Dunner is an HIV specialist, also working with individuals struggling with substance abuse and / or living with HIV and AIDS and speaks internationally, sharing his experience on the latest treatments.
For over 15 years, he was the medical preceptor for nurse practitioners at both Columbia and Pace Universities and counts at least 500 nurse practitioners he’s mentored.
Additionally, Dr. Dunner founded and runs the non-profit Coach for Living, encouraging wellness and helping people of all ages improve their lifestyle around healthy eating.