Cuban doctors visiting Chicago offer a fresh perspective
Mitch Dudek @mitchdudek
Dr. Robert Winn wants to understand exactly how doctors in Cuba are able
to utilize high school students as front line health care workers by
having them check in on sick patients in their neighborhoods.
So Winn is thrilled to host three Cuban doctors this week who’ve
partnered with their counterparts at the University of Illinois at
Chicago to exchange best practices.
The doctors — all official representatives of Cuba’s Ministry of Health
— arrived Monday. It’s their first time in the United States as part of
a bilateral program made possible by warmer relations with the island
nation under President Barack Obama.
The partnership is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Winn, who heads up the university’s Cancer Center and oversees the
schools 13 federally funded health centers that provide care in
underserved neighborhoods, has a lot of respect for what doctors in Cuba
are able to accomplish with little money.
“What our Cuban partners have been a little bit ahead of us is that they
recognize that when you don’t have a lot of money, what you do is you
have people,” Winn said.
Winn dreams of high school kids checking on their neighbors in
neighborhoods like Englewood or Auburn Gresham, but the scenario runs
into a stumbling block: gun violence.
“In Cuba, the reason why you have these neighborhoods and you can
collect data and you can have high school kids go and check on everybody
is because there’s no fear,” Winn said.
“There’s a sense of public safety … one of our biggest challenges is
going to be how do we actually get that spirit and that sense of what
you do in Cuba in a neighborhood like Englewood and South Shore where
there is gun violence,” he said.
“We think we know how to actually implement these things inside the
community but to be able to do that, we need a safe space to do it,”
Winn said, He added that education and economics play a huge role in
health — a factor the Cubans also take into account.
“What I think a fresh pair of eyes will do for us is to hopefully
identify the problems we think we have …and we can come up with
different ideas,” he said.
“It’s not a thing that we really have that much experience with in our
country,” Cuban Dr. Jose Armando Arrant Villamarin said via interpreter.
“Our children do not carry guns, therefore we don’t have that experience.”
“But we will contribute humbly our experience in any way possible,” he
said. “We want to see them and talk to the people so we can get a better
picture so we can help and learn.”
Commenting on the willingness of Cubans to actively participate in the
health care of fellow citizens, Winn said: “People will say, ‘Well
that’s a totalitarian society. They’re just doing what they’re told.’
Actually, I’ve been there enough now to know that’s not it. They take
pride in it.”
Winn said he planned to take his Cuban counterparts on a warts-and-all
tour of the city. “That’s the only way this works, if it’s completely
transparent,” he said.
Villamarin and his colleagues return to Cuba Friday but future trips by
doctors from each country are in the works.
Source: Cuban doctors visiting Chicago offer a fresh perspective |
Chicago Sun-Times –