Ideas and Insights

Childbirth and Mortality Through the Ages: Reflections on Mother’s Day

Bundled up to break the wind off the water, I stared down at the small, timeworn gravestones marked not by years of birth and death, but by days and weeks. Mary – stillborn, Stephen – 1 week, Sarah – 5 months and 12 days, Albert Henry – 6 years, 9 months, and 11 days, Louisa […]

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But You Don’t Look Like a Patient

Sitting next to me was an elderly woman stooped to a right angle. Next to her a gentleman tethered to an oxygen tank by a nasal cannula. Everything else – the dated magazines, water cooler, and photographs of farms and birds – looked like any other doctor’s waiting room. I’d been waiting to see my cardiologist longer […]

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Yes, Patients Can Change Public Policy — But Will Anyone Listen?

When I was a newbie in Washington, DC in the 90s working for US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Office of Organ Transplantation (DOT), one of my jobs was organizing public hearings to finalize organ allocation policies — in other words, identifying which factors (age, geography, race, blood type, waiting time) […]

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Is Your Doctor Really Listening?

It was 1998 and I had just moved to Louisville, Kentucky, very close to where I grew up as a child.  I was returning to my native state to care for my mother who was dying of ovarian cancer and her mother who was bedbound by a stroke.  My life had been interrupted and part […]

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