Magazine article Medical Economics

Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Sister Anne Brooks, DO: She Heeded a Call, and Transformed a Town

Magazine article Medical Economics

Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Sister Anne Brooks, DO: She Heeded a Call, and Transformed a Town

Article excerpt

Sixteen years ago, there was no doctor in Tutwiler, MS. Nor was there an ambulance, a community center, youth programs, prenatal and parenting classes, a resale shop-or a single Catholic.

All that began to change in 1983, when Sister Anne Brooks came to town-fresh from earning a DO degree and completing a general internship. Earlier, Brooks, who took her vows in 1955, had been a schoolteacher and principal. Although she "hated science and had no money," she became a doctor at age 44 to serve the underprivileged. A National Health Service Corps scholarship landed her in Tutwiler, which seemed the perfect place for her.

A hamlet of 1,300 in the Mississippi Delta, Tutwiler is home to some of the poorest Americans, many descended from slaves and sharecroppers. Unemployment, illiteracy, and teen pregnancy soar well above average, while per-capita income falls far below.

Brooks had her work cut out for her Since the beginning, because patients lack transportation, she's made house calls. People come to her house as well, often in the middle of the night. She did CPR in the back of a car during a drive to the hospital. She climbed into overturned cars to treat accident victims. She struggled to save a patient who died in her front yard.

Many who hadn't been to a physician in years came to her newly refurbished clinic. "I've seen all kinds of everything," Brooks says, "from untreated diabetes to chipmunk bites:'

Her efforts have extended beyond the community's medical needs. When a cotton gin fouled the air with particulates, Brooks helped another nun alert the Environmental Protection Agency, and the machine was fixed. …

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