In our last
Progress Notes installment of the year, med student Devorah Donnell asks us all to resolve to be part of the change we want to see in primary care. Read her story, then take the pledge to be part of the change. Help make everyone's New Year happy and healthy!
By Devorah Donnell
I met my patient who sat with her eyes fixed on the floor, looking skeptical and tough but on the verge of tears. In her presence, the room felt sad and dark despite the sun streaming in through the blinds. Ester was a 50-year-old female who had gone to the emergency department because her co-workers thought she was having a heart attack, but when it was deemed non-cardiac chest pain that was most likely associated with anxiety, she was sent to the psychiatry office where I was rotating. As we discussed her severe depression and suicidal thoughts, multiple health concerns, and family history of death at a young age, she shared with me the most important factor: She had never been to a doctor. At 50 years old, she had seen a doctor for the first time that she could remember the day before in the emergency department. She had never seen a primary care doctor.
One year earlier, while signing up patients at UConn’s free mobile medical clinic for migrant farm workers, I greeted a family that timidly approached the big, empty metal warehouse where we were set up on a farm. Guillermo stood next to his wife who held their 6-month old infant fussing in her arms. After I asked who would like to see a doctor, Guillermo and his wife signed up, explaining that their infant did not need to be seen because “she was not sick.”