Bloody Diamonds

There are no paintings on the walls in the hospitals I have worked at in the capital of Liberia over the past five years. The bareness on the walls parallels the limited equipment I have on hand to care for patients with bacterial meningitis, pericardial tuberculosis, and malaria. Listening to some of these patients or looking at their chest films without the benefit of modern technology, I get the feeling I am seeing pathology in its most extreme form—the way people saw it when the diseases we now treat routinely in the United States were first discovered. Listening to the sandpaper sound of one man’s pericardial rub, I think, “Oh! That’s why we call it a ‘rub!’” (more…)

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Sounds of Haiti

There is always humming from somewhere. It is usually low and musical as patients try to distract themselves from phantom limb pain that is not at all phantom. 

It is 13 days after the earthquake. I am coordinating a 12-member team at St. Marc’s hospital, a government facility on the west coast of Haiti. For the 2 years prior to the quake, Partners in Health has supported the site with materials and salary. An orthopedic surgeon, a plastic surgeon, an anesthesiologist, an emergency room physician and five nurses are with me from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. (more…)

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