Hey Manners Matter: Say Hello My Name Is Not Just to the Patient

Why Introductions Matter Is a New Post I did at the BMJ


Suzanne Gordon: Why introductions matter

13 Sep, 16 | by BMJ

suzanne_gordonThe other day, I was invited to give a seminar on interprofessional teamwork to a group of residents and attendees at a prestigious university medical center in Europe. The first thing people did when they trooped into the room was introduce themselves to me. Since there were about 25 people in the room, no one really expected me to remember their names. But each and every one of them went through the drill.

These introductions did more than convey instrumental information about who we all were and what roles we had. At the most fundamental level, what people are doing when they acknowledge a stranger walking down a street or shake the hand of a person whom they have just met is create a psychologically—not to mention physically—safe environment. Read More


Jeff Miller Doesn’t Believe Veterans Deserve the Healing Arts

Another blog post on how low people will stoop to deny veterans excellent care.

In Defense of Art in VA Hospitals

Conservatives are mad about spending government money on art, but it provides real medical benefits.

by Suzanne Gordon September 13, 2016 6:00 AM Politics art in VA hospitalCourtesy of Veterans Affairs

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has taken a lot of heat lately about using money to purchase art for its hospitals and other facilities. Last week, Gail Collins, in a column in the New York Times, joined in the pile-on. While Collins defended the VHA and opposed its privatization, writing that veterans “are satisfied” with its services and that “the care is in many cases excellent,” she couldn’t resist a jab at the VHA for spending $670,000 on two sculptures that were placed in a blind rehabilitation center. Her conclusion? “Veterans healthcare for everybody! But maybe with less art.”

The issue of spending on art first emerged last year when Congressman Jeff Miller (R. FLA) , Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs, a … Continue reading

Bad Day for Veterans at HVAC

perspective0221magNew blog post at the American Prospect

Tapped: The Prospect Group Blog

Hill Hearing Spells Bad News for Veterans

Not a single veterans service organizations was asked to speak last week at the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s hearing on the final recommendations of the VA Commission on Care, though such groups represent millions of former military personnel.

Also noticeably absent from the witness list was Vietnam veteran Michael Blecker, executive director of the San Francisco veterans group Swords to Plowshares, who served on the Commission on Care, and who dissented from its final report. Blecker objected that the commission’s leading recommendation—the creation of a so-called VHA Health System network of private sector care providers—could fatally weaken veterans’ health care.  Read More

Haiti /UN/ Cholera OpEd in New York Times

Renaud Piarroux’s OpEd on the UN cholera coverup in Haiti just appeared in the New York Times.  To read much more about this travesty read Ralph Frerich’s Deadly River, which I had the honor of editing at Cornell University Press.

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

The U.N.’s Responsibility in Haiti’s Cholera Crisis


Cholera patients received treatment at the St. Nicholas Hospital in St.-Marc, in 2010. Credit Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

Marseille, France In late 2010, the Haitian government asked me to investigate a cholera outbreak that struck that autumn following the arrival of a United Nations peacekeeping unit. It quickly became evident that some of the peacekeepers, who had been rotating through Haiti as part of a mission started in 2004 to provide security and stability, had introduced cholera from Nepal, where the disease had been flourishing.

By scrutinizing the most affected areas and using maps to trace the disease, I demonstrated how the … Continue reading

Being Mindful at Fort Miley

SF's Historic Fort Miley

Being Mindful at Fort Miley

by Suzanne Gordon on September 6, 2016

It is Tuesday afternoon, at three o’clock and four unlikely students of “mindfulness meditation” are relearning how to breathe. Instruction in being more mindful is everywhere these days, particularly in the Bay Area. So I could have been sitting through a similar training in Berkeley with a group of 60-something women with crinkling faces, flowing gray hair, and a history of New Age enthusiasms. Or I could have been on Valencia Street in San Francisco, epicenter of that city’s techie take-over, where whiz kids in their twenties and thirties are coping with long hours in Silicon Valley at a studio with a website called stressreductionatwork.com.

The 12-week mindfulness training I am attending takes place in a distinctly different setting, however. It’s held in a corner conference room in Building Number 8, the Behavioral Health Building, at The San Francisco VA Health Care System at Fort Miley and led by clinical psychologist Susanna Fryer and psychology intern Ian Ramsey. The group of veterans in their fifties and sixties who’ve come … Continue reading