Going Beyond 'Band-Aid' Care

August 5, 2014 4:36 PM

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Going Beyond 'Band-Aid' Care

When I was a medical student, I worked with an NGO in Rwanda to provide medical care to women with HIV. Nearly all had witnessed their family members murdered during the genocide, and many became afflicted with HIV as a result of rape. Our initial focus was on getting antiretroviral therapy to these women, but we quickly realized that while it was important for them to have access to medications, they couldn't be healthy unless they also had enough food to eat. They couldn't stay safe unless they had shelter. They couldn't be well unless we addressed their psychological trauma.

As an emergency physician working in inner-city ERs in St. Louis, Boston, and D.C., I see this same problem every day. My 8-year-old patient, Kami, comes in wheezing and short of breath. She has asthma, and two years ago, she lost her inhaler. She and two brothers are staying with her mother's cousi...

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