The first time Linda Carson, M.D., visited Baruch Padeh Medical Center in Poriya, Israel, she found a “very barebones” setup.
The hospital environment was a reflection of the region in general, says Carson, who is head of the University’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health. “People live much more simply,” she says.
And that simplicity crosses over to care delivery, too. While many clinics and hospitals in the United States invest heavily in providing comfortable surroundings for patients, the Poriya hospital didn’t. It didn’t even have air-conditioning, Carson notes.
But she found that her colleagues in Israel still produced good outcomes for patients. “When you’re providing good care, the setting doesn’t matter so much,” she says.
On their first trip to Poriya in 2005, Carson and a few other Minnesota faculty members helped their new colleagues set up an outpatient chemotherapy infusion clinic and trained its doctors and nurses. The clinic is still the only one of its kind in the region, she says.
The Minnesota contingent also found a great collaborator in Ilan Atlas, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist at Baruch Padeh Medical Center. Every six weeks the Minnesota and Poriya groups present cases to each other via teleconference. Atlas also talks to University medical students and residents about what it’s like to struggle with the high costs of medical care, stressing “the importance of getting real value out of what we’re doing,” Carson says.
And Atlas, who plays guitar for patients getting chemotherapy at his hospital, also has taught his new colleagues about the stress-reducing effects music during treatment—an idea that Carson thinks is worth pursuing back at the University.