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FINK

Fink caps final week with lecture on medical ethics after natural disasters

Hurricanes in the Northeast, tornadoes in the deep South and earthquakes in California are among the recent natural disasters that have caused millions of dollars in damage and affected countless lives. Dr. Sheri Fink has reported on such catastrophes and has provided insights on how American hospitals prepare and administer help for these disasters.

Fink is the author of the upcoming release Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, an account of New Orleans’s Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — more specifically, the medical ethics displayed in the wake of the disaster. She will discuss her book at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy, the final lecture of the season in the Chautauqua Women’s Club Contemporary Issues Forum speaker series.

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Katie McLean | Staff PhotographerSusan Dentzer, senior policy adviser for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, delivers the final 2013 morning lecture Friday in the Amp.

Dentzer: Post-acute care key to improving U.S. health system

A projection of Michelangelo’s David stared down at the Amphitheater audience from behind Susan Dentzer as she spoke at Friday’s morning lecture. But this wasn’t quite the perfectly proportioned model of a man that has wowed countless numbers of tourists in Italy. An apparently unhealthy dose of Photoshop had added a massive gut and sagging pectorals to the famed piece of art.

“Somebody got the bright idea to send him off to a two-month trip in the United States,” Dentzer joked. “He’s just not the svelte young Florentine he used to be — he’s an American.”

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Katie McLean | Staff PhotographerChristina Puchalski, founder and director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, lectures on the importance of caring for a patient beyond their physical well-being Thursday afternoon in the Hall of Philosophy. Puchalski suggests that doctors should spend just as much time caring for their patients on a mental, social, and spiritual level.

Puchalski: ‘Healing is not one of only mechanical repair but one of regaining relatedness itself’

Medical patients have physical needs as well as spiritual ones. And Dr. Christina Puchalski doesn’t believe health care professionals should limit themselves to just the former.

She said that 73 percent of cancer patients said they’ve experienced at least one instance of spiritual need; 40 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients said they have a significant level of spiritual distress.

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STAGGS

Impressionist Staggs uses laughter for medicine

The Rev. Al Staggs can trace his love of comedic performance back to one moment when he was 17: His mother, who suffered from lifelong depression related to an abusive, alcoholic husband and the early deaths of her parents, was ironing bed sheets with a sad expression on her face. To cheer her up, Staggs jumped in front of her and impersonated comedian Jonathan Winters’ grandmotherly character Maude Frickert, wearing a wig, high heels and a dress. His mother laughed so hard that she sobbed.

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DENTZER

Analyst Dentzer to clarify current health policy muddle

Susan Dentzer will wrap up the Week Nine examination of “Health Care: Reform and Innovation” — and the 2013 morning lecture series — at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

Dentzer is a longtime health care analyst on “PBS NewsHour,” former editor of the journal Health Affairs and a senior health policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J.

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Katie McLean | Staff PhotographerChristine Cassel lectures on the importance of a more open, two-way relationship between doctors and patients in her morning lecture Thursday in the Amphitheater.

Cassel: Doctor-patient relationship needs to rest on even ground

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists the first definition of “patient” as “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.” The thesaurus provides some of the expected synonyms: “tolerant” and “stoic.” But then some “related words” take a slightly darker turn — “subservient,” “conformist” and, taking the sentiment to its bleakest extreme, “slavish.”

While there are many times patience is, as they say, a virtue, Dr. Christine K. Cassel said people seeking medical care don’t like calling themselves “patients.” It makes them feel powerless. And that’s a dynamic between consumers and health care providers that Cassel wants to help change; she believes people seeking health care need to have a more balanced doctor-patient relationship than has historically been the case.

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Katie McLean | Staff PhotographerStephen M. Sager delivers Wednesday’s Interfaith Lecture, titled “Spiritual Malaise in Modern Health Care,” in the Hall of Philosophy.

Sagar: The key to health care is caring

In Dr. Stephen Sagar’s view, medicine has become a dystopian business enterprise. There are so many rules and regulations for health care professionals to deal with that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to provide compassionate health care. Bureaucratic systems are taking the soul out of health care organizations, he said, by pulling physicians and nurses out of the front lines and into a culture detached from patients, one that values efficiency and productivity over personal interaction. “You may be surprised to learn that physicians are losing their power to make decisions and moral choices,” Sagar said. “A major contributor to that is micromanagement of the physician and nurse by a burgeoning bureaucracy of administrators and managers who impose a top-down approach to controlling clinicians.”

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PUCHALSKI

Puchalski advocates spiritual assessment in patient treatment

Before going to medical school, Christina Puchalski worked at the National Institutes of Health, a medical research agency that typically treats patients who did not respond to conventional treatments. She began to realize that spirituality is important for coping with physical distress; despite their illnesses, many NIH patients had a real sense of purpose because of their faith.

When Puchalski lost a family member in her youth, she found exploring her spirituality and participating in support groups to be beneficial to her own healing.

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