A Helping Hand

Dr. Kris Deeter beat the odds in order to find her passion – giving every child the chance for a better, more prosperous life.

Dr. Kris Deeter’s story begins in a blue-collar community in Northern California. Her father was a steel-metal worker. No one in her family had been to college, and they had to rely on government assistance to get by.

But Deeter has come a long way from her childhood in California. Today, she works with critically ill children as a pediatric intensivist at Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida. The center manages the pediatric intensive care unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. “It was always important for me to go back and help kids who were like me and give them that push of encouragement,” she says.

Deeter doesn’t remember the moment she decided to be a doctor, but her mom remembers her drawing pictures of helping children.

When Deeter’s parents divorced, her mom decided to finish school and become an administrator with Head Start. Inspired by her mom’s perseverance, Deeter realized that she could also rise above circumstances.

“I watched her to go to school, to work her way up. She was my example, my role model,” Deeter says. “It was very important to [my mom] that her kids receive a good education and do the most that they could with it so that they would never be left the way she was.”

Thanks to a scholarship and various jobs, including working at the boat docks and ski lifts in Lake Tahoe, Deeter studied at the University of California, Berkeley and then moved to the East Coast to study medicine at New York Medical College. There, she met her husband, Matt Deeter, a soldier studying surgery.

The two moved to Texas where she became the chief resident and hospitalist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Matt also served twice as a trauma surgeon in Iraq. When he retired, the couple moved to South Florida for a fellowship. Today, they have two daughters, Katie and Alexa.

“I never wanted to marry a doctor ever. I never wanted to have kids, either. When I met him, it was the opposite of everything that I wanted,” Deeter laughs. “I can’t imagine being married to anyone else.”

Deeter’s passion is making the world a better place for children. She says that they’re underserved in almost every aspect of life. “Abuse is the main problem that I see,” Deeter says. “To see kids come in after being abused or neglected is heartbreaking and disturbing. I feel like there’s so much more that we can do.”

Deeter supports Kids in Distress and the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation. But she doesn’t stop there. Overseas, she works with the Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh and Project Medishare For Haiti.

The National Head Start Association is also close to her heart – it was the very program that helped Deeter during her early school years.

“Children are our future and they’re going to be running this country when we’re old. They need to be smart, they need to be healthy,” Deeter says.

Originally published in Gold Coast magazine

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