The Founding of CityMD: CEO Richard Park on Spreading Kindness

“You’re at Stuyvesant,” Dr. Richard Park (’90), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at CityMD and Emergency Medicine physician, said. “You guys are capable and healthy. I can’t tell you how important that is.” Over 150 students gathered on Tuesday, November 10 to listen to Dr. Park as he chronicled the founding of CityMD and why he established a motto of “kindness” as the basis of his business. Dr. Park’s visit was organized by the Stuyvesant Pre-Medical Society and hosted by junior and president Evelyn Gotlieb and sophomore and vice president Sofiya Tsenter.

Dr. Park began his lecture by emphasizing that financial circumstances should not determine the opportunities a student is provided. After Dr. Park graduated from Stuyvesant, he chose to take a gap year before attending the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania due to financial difficulties. He described how he felt isolated from his peers because while they were financially-able to attend college, he had to open his own business, a one-hour photo store. Throughout college, Dr. Park commuted from his Pennsylvania dorm to the store every weekend to pay for his education.

After graduating from Wharton and later completing medical school, Park began his Emergency Medicine residency at Long Island Jewish Hospital. Following his residency, however, Dr. Park was met with the challenges of raising an autistic and nonverbal child. His experiences have led him to establish the premise of kindness for himself and all that he pursues. Though he knows his children will always rely on him in a way non-autistic children would not, he is able to recognize the effects kindness can have on anyone. Dr. Park felt obliged to spread kindness in its simplest forms and carry along this initiative in the creation of CityMD in 2010.  “When you appreciate people and you love people, you can do amazing things. You can do more than you ever knew you could,” Dr. Park said.

Currently, there are 48 CityMD locations, with a projected 52 by the end of 2015. CityMD locations specialize in urgent care, providing immediate and affordable medical care for people of all ages. Though Dr. Park does not intend to remain CEO since he does not have his Masters in Business Administration, he wants to use his current position to properly communicate and establish a mission statement of serving people with kindness. “The company you create, anything you create, is your artwork. It is a reflection of who you are and your values,” he said.

Dr. Park recounted his experience with a patient who came into the CityMD in Astoria in excruciating pain, delaying his treatment since he did not have health insurance. CityMD treated the patient free of charge, and he left smiling. “For a few minutes, by saying the procedure was on the house, the world wasn’t broken, and that’s what we all have to do, just spread kindness. Life is tough enough; [we should] make it a little bit easier for someone else,” Dr. Park said. “We didn’t solve any long-term problems here. But for a minute, everything was okay.”

He went on to explain his philosophy of serving others as crucial to a prosperous career. Dr. Park referenced numerous instances in which the charity of others helped him when he was struggling. Upon renting the first office of CityMD, Dr. Park applied for bankruptcy, until the landowner of the building and now close friend Al Glick, gave him a $300,000 loan, in order to help keep the business afloat.

However, he acknowledged that revenue must exist in order for CityMD to succeed in the long-term. As an example, he mentioned the creation of the Jackson Heights’ CityMD location, which originally had lost $3,000,000. A result of dedication and hard work, the location is now able to sustain itself and contribute to the revenue of the company.

Dr. Park explained the growth of CityMD as a combination of timing, luck, and good partners. His passion for his work was a large factor as well. Dedication to his company led to expansion and success, even through hardship. “The only way you can do that, to go the extra mile, is because you love something,” he said.

Park hopes that his lecture provided an eye-opening experience for students. “It was an opportunity to share the struggles I had growing up and to encourage [students] to have the correct mission and goals in life. People aren’t motivated correctly. This lecture was a reminder to the students as well as myself,” Dr. Park said.

The Pre-Medical Society feels that Dr. Park accomplished this goal. “Dr. Park’s message conveyed that CityMD is successful because it appreciates and cares for people, serves them instead of taking from them,” Gotlieb said. “Dr. Park wants all prospective doctors to go into the medical field having a love for people and the intention to perpetuate kindness, even in the simple acts of our daily routines.”