I am a family physician working in a community health center on the South Side of Chicago. I naturally think and write about what makes me and my patients healthy or sick–our families, friends, communities, life opportunities, and the bigger forces at play in the world that shape our opportunities. My understanding of health was shaped in Senegal.
In college, I spent a semester abroad studying a devastating outbreak of the waterborne parasitic disease of schistosomiasis along a newly dammed river in Senegal, West Africa. I learned how poverty, culture, public infrastructure, environmental regulation, departments of sanitation, water, housing, public health, and medicine intersect to promote health and combat disease. I learned to see health in all policies.
Resolve: One nation’s human suffering cannot become another’s scientific playground:
I began an investigation spanning five years and multiple trips to Senegal to explore the ethics of an international biomedical research team that doubled as a public health response. This taught me a lot about the structure and incentives of our medical system, and where they do and don’t promote health, and at what cost.
A bargain for life:
When a dear friend in Senegal fell deadly ill with malaria, I made a bargain with God. “If she lives,” I promised, “I’ll become a doctor to share the technologies that may save her life with others.” She lived. I stayed at Yale for medical school, then went on to residency at Middlesex then Brown to become a family physician.
Today I practice family medicine in a community health center on Chicago’s South Side, and teach learners of all ages the understanding and skills needed to address health where it begins–in the community, where we live, work and play.
There is a movement afoot to transform our sick care system into a true health care system.
I believe in the power of policy narrative: that stories plus data equals change. As a physician-writer-educator-advocate, I seek to create the change I want to see in the world through this blog–sharing the stories of the world as it is and envisioning the world as I would like it to be.
Any views or opinions presented through social media are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of the hospitals, clinics and institutions where I work, teach and study.