Extraordinary Woman of New Orleans: Meet Dr. Patrice Sentino

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Hope, health and healing: these three words are what Dr. Patrice Sentino lives by.

“I was inspired by the word ‘hope’ because I believe that everyone has the ability to achieve it. There is hope in every situation,” Dr. Sentino told WGNO’s Peyton Locicero-Trist. “No one has to be left out, no one has to be lost because there is hope. There is restoration.”

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the damage it left behind wasn’t just debris. There was devastating trauma and, for many, nowhere to turn for help.

“After Hurricane Katrina, there were no mental health services in New Orleans East. So as a resident of New Orleans East for almost 40 years, this is an area that I grew up in and am passionate about,” he continued. “At the time, I was working for the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court and I saw a lot of kids coming into the system, which was almost like a conduit to prison.”

Seeing the fractures in the juvenile justice system, Dr. Sentino knew she could help.

“I took a step of faith and said ‘I want to be the one to go back and provide those services to my community,’” added Dr. Sentino.

Opening the Hope Center, Children and Family Services was a mission that Dr. Sentino set out to do and she made it possible in 2008. To this day, it remains open and continues to help tens of thousands of children and families in New Orleans. community.

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In the past, many generations shied away from the topic of mental health.

“If you don’t have your mental health, you don’t have health at all. So mental health is really how we function, it’s really how we live our lives. Especially in the African-American community, there really was a stigma to really talk about mental health or people would consider ‘the stigma’ of being crazy or the terminologies, the negative connotations. But now, with more education and more awareness, people are getting informed.

When Dr. Sentino walks into a room, she is focused on making an impact, whether at home with her family, at work with children, or in the community with her peers.

“It reminds me of one of the quotes that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said and it’s basically, ‘What are you doing for others?’ The most important thing you can do when you walk into a room is make an impact, and that impact is being able to help someone along the way. The most important thing we will do in life is what we do for others. Sometimes this job is hard work, so it’s very rewarding and fulfilling when you see someone come in and that behavior has changed and they’re now productive citizens in society and giving back to their community.

Something Dr. Sentino says makes everything she does at New Orleans East worthwhile.

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