The Chronicity of Compassion

September 8, 2015

Madelaine Katz, an undergraduate member of the Bass Connections project team Integrative Global Health Research on Sickle Cell Disease, recently visted the Sickle Cell Unit at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica as part of her team’s research.

Since sickle cell disease is a chronic illness, Katz explains that the same patients have been regulars at this clinic for years. As a result, the doctors, nurses and patients know each other well and are deeply invested in one another’s lives. Because the unit is so specialized for one disease, the physicians are able to personalize the type of care that patients receive, especially when it comes to dealing with periods of pain that often accompany the disease.

“The weight of managing a chronic illness is a taxing and life long experience. However, the presence of an entire unit and its dedicated, warm staff to guide you along the path is a beacon of hope in time of worry and pain. This unique model was one that I felt privileged to observe, and I can only imagine what incredibly positive outcomes could emerge out of developing similar spaces, for sickle cell disease and other chronic illness such as diabetes or HIV, in areas of need across the globe.” 

Read more about Katz's experience on the Duke Global Health Institute's Diaries From the Field Blog.