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Volume 1, Issue 2
Summer 2005:

Doctor and Patient: Having Words

Cell 2 Soul. 2005 Summer; 1(2):a7

One of our objectives as we envisioned Cell 2 Soul, was for it to be a locus at which patients, their families and care givers could meet to discuss, debate and consider what they have to teach each other about the illness experience in all its varied manifestations.

Enter June Bingham and Gerry Neuberg, whose column "Doctor and Patient: Having Words" has appeared monthly in the Riverdale Press (a weekly newspaper in the Bronx, New York) since October 2003. We have secured permission to reprint some of these discussions, and are confident that our readers will both enjoy and benefit from them.

"Doctor and Patient: Having Words" is a dialogue between a questioning patient and her approachable physician. Too often, discussions like this are not held and the result is mutual suspicion and distrust. June Bingham and Dr. Neuberg's tête-à-tête serves as a template for patient-doctor communication and goes a long ways to transforming the often silent world of the exam room. Also note that Bingham and Neuberg see to it that the patient always gets the last word!

As Riverdale Press Co-Publisher Bernard Stein explains, June Bingham is not someone who likes being told what to do without knowing why. So when she met her new cardiologist, a man much younger than she, she asked for explanations. Ms. Bingham and Dr. Gerald Neuberg began sending e-mails back and forth, with Ms. Bingham's questions and ventings of disappointment about medical treatment in general and Dr. Neuberg's considered responses. The dialogue grew so spirited, and so interesting, that they decided to go public in a version less specific to one patient's complaints.

That's how "Doctor & Patient: Having Words," which debuts in this issue of Cell 2 Soul, was born.

"She asked such good questions," said Dr. Neuberg.

"I was in his face," Ms. Bingham recalled. "I wouldn't want to have me as a patient."

"That's okay. The dialogue has been fun," responded Neuberg.

Our first column asks why a patient often leaves the doctor's office "feeling like an idiot." Future columns will range over a wide range of issues.

June Bingham is an author and playwright whose writing frequently appears on The Press's op-ed page and occasionally in the New York Times. She comes by her medical knowledge and curiosity by virtue not only of her eight decades as a patient, but from doctor-grandchildren and her volunteer work. She is the founder of TLC, Trained Liaison Comforters, which places volunteers in waiting rooms of intensive care units to help families and friends of the sickest patients.

Dr. Neuberg is a cardiologist and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. He also serves as Director of the Intensive Care Unit at Columbia's Allen Pavilion, and as a medical ethics consultant. He is author or co-author of over 60 published medical papers and abstracts, most on heart failure, and he has been cited in the Castle Conolly guide "Best Doctors: NY Metro." He and his wife Roseann are being raised by three teenagers.

Doctor and Patient will appear as a feature in each issue of Cell 2 Soul. Bingham and Neuberg hope that Cell 2 Soul readers will send them questions of their own for future columns. Readers are encouraged to contact the columnists by sending e-mails to DoctorPatient~AT~cell2soul·org, with "Doctor and Patient" in the subject line.

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