Five years at a Community Health Center in New York City led me to an interest in Harm Reduction and chemical dependency as I wearied of seeing my patients die of AIDS contracted from dirty syringes. That led me to the beginning of many years involvement in syringe exchange programs. I entered an AIDS fellowship at the New York State Dept of Health that allowed me to learn about policy, public health and drug use.Upon completion I stayed on at the Department of Health as a public health physician and became medical director of a methadone program. I was part of transforming the clinic from "the last stop on the road to nowhere" to a place I continue to be proud to show international visitors.Then I quit my secure jobs with the health department (actually I continue to consult with both) to become medical director of the Harm Reduction Coalition to set up a newly funded overdose prevention program, distributing naloxone to drug users and providing capacity building to agencies wishing to do the same.Rather serendipitously I became involved in international work, providing training and capacity building on Harm Reduction and drug treatment. At the moment I have ongoing projects in Tanzania and Ukraine, as well as consultations and presentations in a number of other countries for several agencies - heroin use is a huge problem in so many developing countries. The only downside is working from grant to grant but now that the US government permits federal funds to be used for Harm Reduction things don't feel too unstable.I feel very fortunate to love my work. Although I'm not really working in family medicine, family medicine was a good choice of residency. For example I have credibility on pregnancy and drug use and with adolescent care as well.
Learning to love living in New York City. I probably concentrate on work too much- that is where I have my favorite accomplishments
In Ukraine I worked with a group of "narcologists" (addiction physicians) from Day 1, before they had methadone to treat the heroin addicts to the point that they can become mentors to others in their country- and perhaps someday in Russia if that country ever decides to deal with the terrible epidemic there.I have also been really pleased to contribute to policy issues, particularly on opioid overdose prevention in NYS, nationally and internationally.And I have published a few papers as well.
Scuba diving (haven't been in years but have had wonderful adventures), walking in cities, on beaches, deserts, forests.
Living in Tucson was such a pleasure and I really appreciated my fellow residents. My last delivery was notable. The mother had 7 sons, and was in an apparently abusive relationship (treated for syphilis in each pregnancy). I liked her though was perhaps a bit judgmental about the pregnancy. But when I caught the baby and told her it was a girl she began to cry from happiness at having a daughter. That made me cry too - very inconvenient in the delivery room.
In 2006 I married Harry Peronius, a Finnish photographer I first met in 1982. We live with our cat in Manhattan and visit my sister Robin in Tucson when we can. Bike riding has been a great way to explore the many odd corners of NYC. Visiting his father in a summerhouse in northern Finland rivals many places in how remote and even exotic it is. His son is in medical school in Uppsala Sweden.