From Charity to the Projects

Hi Brink, Hi Bo:

The book’s a great idea. Here’s my story:

The year was 1990 and I was a PGY-2 ifor Tulane Orthopaedics and was doing a rotation at Charity Hospital. Dave Kahler was my chief resident. One evening a young lady from the projects named Pauline came in with a Grade 3B open tibia fracture due to a gunshot wound. She was a prostitute. We performed an IM nailing of her tibia but her open wound required soft tissue coverage. We eventually performed a gastrocnemius flap with split thickness skin grafting and she was placed in a long leg cast. She was in the hospital for quite awhile and I got to know her well. She was deep down a very sweet lady.

Tulane Orthopaedics had Grand Rounds every Tuesday morning and it was my turn soon to present a case.  Dave and I decided that soft tissue coverage of open tibia fractures would be a good topic and I got to work on it.

One morning at 5:30 I rounded on Pauline at Charity close to the time of her discharge. She looked agitated and I asked her what was wrong. She pulled $3000 out of her bra and handed it to me. She said “Dr. Bischoff, you need to hold on to this for me. You’re the only one I trust!” Even though I was financially challenged at the time, I handed her the money back and said “No chance”. I had enough worries at that time without having her handler chase me down.

Pauline was soon discharged in her cast and we arranged for follow up at the Orthopaedic Clinic at Charity. She never showed. Dave and I seriously worried about what was going on underneath that cast. Less importantly, I needed a followup picture of that flap for my talk. We decided to track Pauline down and found out where she lived. We went to her project with a cast saw in our hands. Several people tried to talk us out of this.  Dave and I decided to sport the “Red Cross Look” and wore our scrubs and white coats to the project. We got many stares, but everyone left us alone. Pauline was thrilled to see us and we gave her a good scolding. We cut a window in the cast and were relieved to see that the flap and skin graft had taken 100%.  I got my picture and she promised to follow up with us at the Charity clinic soon. I never saw her again and often wondered what happened to her.

I could tell many more Charity tales that were quite humorous, but this one stood out.

Thanks for your efforts,

Bob Bischoff




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