Feminize Medical Care

Feminize Medical Care—4-2010

© Richard Grossman MD, 2010

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart;

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace;

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, starvation, war and loss, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy;

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done;

May God bless you with God’s comforting presence now and in your journeys through each day.

Franciscan blessing

Read by Reverend Ginny Brown at Dr. Leanne Jordan’s memorial service

My first year medical school class had 125 students in it; only six were women. Now half of medical students are women.

I did my specialty training at the University of New Mexico and was surprised that several other residents in obstetrics and gynecology came from medical school in Denver. The former chair of the OB-GYN department excluded women from his program. Imagine not letting women learn to care for women! Fortunately that has changed; now only two of thirty-six OB-GYN residents at the University of Colorado are male.

A friend studied the culture of operating rooms for his doctorate in sociology. He noted a huge change from the 1960s to the present. Men initially dominated—both figuratively and literally—and many OR nurses lived in terror of the behavior of surgeons. As more women became surgeons the ethos improved. The OR became a kinder, gentler place, and patients benefited as well as the staff. Worldwide, empowerment of women is one of the most important steps we can take to slow population growth.

Women in medicine often take off time to have children and to raise their family, so female doctors may take longer to finish their training. I am proud of our daughter-in-law, Dr. Stephanie Shrago, for excelling in med school and family practice residency and having two wonderful daughters. Of course, I also have to thank our son Dave who does a lot of our granddaughters’ care.

Another remarkable physician with whom I practiced for almost twelve years just died. Dr. Leanne Jordan’s memorial service was held earlier this month with an overflow crowd of admirers. Speakers at the service recalled Leanne’s talents: an amazing athlete, empathetic friend and an outstanding doctor. When we worked together in the operating room I felt as though I were energized with a second cup of coffee, because she was always so quick—but careful—during surgery.

One friend said that Leanne’s smile would light up a whole room. I knew about many of her accomplishments and numerous athletic skills that were mentioned during the service. I will never forget the story of her skinny-dipping with a friend after rowing practice when some guys moved their clothes away from the river’s bank.

Leanne died of the breast cancer that she fought valiantly for years. I admire her for being the “poster child” for cancer treatment. She did not hide the fact that she was battling the disease. This openness was a source of solace for others with serious illnesses, and an encouragement to get screened for cancer.

Early detection of breast cancer is key to its cure, as with many other diseases. Breast self exam is good, but mammograms can detect disease long before it can be felt.

Mercy has just opened its state-of-the-art Breast Care Center. It has the latest equipment for the diagnosis of breast problems. In addition, it is beautiful. Stunning art, a fireplace and the dragonfly motif help to soften the usual medical atmosphere.

In the past I heard complaints about pain caused by mammograms, but I don’t any more. That may be because the new digital machines are faster. They are safer, too, since they use less radiation.

Regrettably, not all women have health insurance to cover mammography. There are programs to help women older than 40, so finances shouldn’t be a reason to avoid this important test. The criteria are confusing for the different programs, so it is best to call B.J. Boucher at the American Cancer Society local office, 259-3527.

We have benefitted from more women participating in medical care. It is sad that we recently lost one of the finest, Dr. Leanne Jordan.

This article may be copied or published but must remain intact, with attribution to the author. I also request that the words “First published in the Durango Herald” accompany any publication. For more information, please write the author at: richard@population-matters.org.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States.