Ministering to others is second nature to Lauro Rocha, DNP, adult medicine nurse practitioner at Broadway House for Continuing Care. Dr. Lauro grew up in Brazil and is the first in his family to obtain a doctorate. A deeply spiritual man, he provides expert medical care and emotional support to the people in our community who need it most.
How did you get your start in medicine?
When I was a 16-year-old in Brazil, I had to help a woman give birth. I always wanted a career in medicine, but even after that experience, I just wasn’t ready. So, I went to a seminary and earned a theology degree, intending to become a missionary in Nigeria. Later, I came to the United States to learn English. Here, I owned a cleaning business, plus worked in a church and did side jobs. At age 35, I began attending Rutgers University, where I went on to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in nursing.
What’s special about Broadway House?
We are the first and only facility in the state of NJ to treat persons living with HIV/AIDS. Newark is the best place to be for those who need this treatment. There is no other long-term care facility with three infectious disease doctors who can be here quickly, with no problem.
Tell us about your work.
Here at Broadway House, I treat a very diverse population of residents with a variety of conditions. I first came here as a consultant. Back in 2012, I opened a wound care practice and often treated residents at Broadway House. I had also worked at the Newark Community Health Center as a supervisor in the HIV Program. I fell in love with the Broadway House mission and the residents here, so I decided to transition to a full-time position seven years ago. Today, I also have a private practice in the Ironbound section of Newark—where the population is predominantly Brazilian, Latino, and Portuguese.
What inspires you most?
The most important thing Broadway House does is help residents to eventually live out in the community—to be someone. We help them to live a fuller life. There is no better reward than when we discharge someone who is ready to re-enter society, healthier and stronger than when they arrived at Broadway House. So, I am inspired by the resilience of our residents. With the assistance of our staff, they find a way to get important services, even when they don’t have health insurance. Our residents look at options and find a way to connect to care.
There is also a sad reality: Some of our residents are so ill that they don’t survive. So, another very important contribution Broadway House makes is that we respect death and provide palliative care to allow those people to die peacefully and pain free, with dignity. I feel privileged to provide this care to those who need it most.
Tell us about your family.
After arriving in the United States, I went home to Brazil briefly to marry, and then my wife and I moved back here. We have a son and a daughter, who at 2 1/2 was diagnosed with leukemia. She underwent several years of chemotherapy, and thank goodness, she’s healthy now. Both of my children have followed me into the medical field. My son is an operating room nurse who is currently in school to become a nurse practitioner and eventually wants to work with transplant patients. My daughter is a telemetry nurse, who would like to someday work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
My wife is my backbone. She helps with my private practice. We’re also very involved in ministry with our church. During my spare time, I love to garden. We grow vegetables and have chickens and roosters on our property.