Global Doc: Neighbors in need

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

Practicing medicine in the tropics entails more than its fair share of the unpredictable, a factor that only increases during Atlantic hurricane season. Last month, as Houston was flooded by Hurricane Harvey’s relentless rains, Haiti pitched in to help.

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Global Doc: Air lift

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

The plane’s engine gently comes to life, subtle and quiet as a dishwasher, and soon we accelerate through takeoff, forced back into our seats by the mounting speed. I turn to the only other passengers — a mother and her son, who one month ago suffered extensive burns over his body, burns that are healing, but not well. “Eske nou anfom?” — Are you OK? — I ask.

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Global Doc: Health. Care. Now.

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

While cervical cancer has dropped out of the top 10 cancer killers in most developed countries — thanks to a simple screening test, the Pap smear — it tops the list in Haiti, where Ange is my patient. Yet Ange’s story is no different from the stories of many women in the United States, particularly among the poor and uninsured.

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Global Doc: Haiti after the Hurricane

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

Another disaster has befallen Haiti in the form of Hurricane Matthew. From outside portrayals, the death and destruction is expected to further cripple the country, our poorest neighbor in the hemisphere. But Haiti is not the sum of a series of disasters, both natural and man-made.

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Global Doc: When Doctors Strike

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

The Haitian doctors’ strike ended last week and it is unclear if there are any winners. The conditions in which the striking doctors work are appalling and the low pay was galling, but without the doctors, hospitals shut their doors and the poor were left to take care of their own illnesses and injuries for nearly five months.

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Global Doc: Rebound

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

Frustrated with the consistent dysfunction of the Haitian government — and, often, of the institutions I work with — I’ve decided to leave an organization I’ve worked for on and off for 12 years and launch a new organization called Equal Health International.

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Global Doc: The Ghetto Biennale

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

The Ghetto Biennale is a biannual street art festival in Port-au-Prince that attracts artists, craftspeople and musicians from all over the world. Wending our way down the tiny, irregular alleys, an overwhelming sensation of welcome and warmth emanates from the shacks and workshops.

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Global Doc: The Blame Game

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

“I want to quit drinking, but it calms me down. Sometimes I drink to numb the pain in my shoulder — old football injury,” my patient John said to me in the hospital last week. “Same with the smoking. It keeps me calm and I don’t think I’ll ever quit smoking. It’s just a part of who I am.”

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Global Doc: Not Enough

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month both in the United States and in Haiti. The month and its ubiquitous pink ribbons are supposed to remind us of the importance of screening for breast cancer and what we can do to stop the leading cancer killer of women globally.

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Finding me

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

Juniors are rare in Italian culture. The first-born male is customarily named after the paternal grandfather, and the second-born male is named after the maternal grandfather. My oldest brother hogged the name of both of our grandfathers, Robert and Edward. Robert, at age 3, successfully lobbied my parents to name their second son Steven, after The Six Million Dollar Man character, Steve Austin. Three years later, my father, Vincent, wanted to give me his name, and my mother acquiesced.

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Global Doc: Smile

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

Alexandra was our first referral from an outside doctor, a hopeful sign of acceptance from the local medical community. She had run out of money. Paying out of pocket, she’d already asked her friends and family to pitch in.

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Global Doc: Aware

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

We’ve been doing interviews on radio and television for nearly two years, repeating that early assessment and early treatment saves lives, but still most of our patients still appear in the late stages of disease.

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Five years of progress

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

Saturday marked the five-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed 220,000 people. But Haiti is much more than the sum of the natural disasters and political unrest that has plagued the nation for the last few decades.

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Global Doc: Long day

By Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. ’02

The only thing on my schedule today was to go to the bank to send an international wire transfer. I never made it there. Before I could, the day would turn bizarre and then surreal in the mountains high above Port-au-Prince.

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