AJN On the Cover
On our cover this month, 84-year-old Cora Waldron sits in her favorite chair in her home in New York State's Adirondack Park. In January 2005, Cora was admitted to the hospital with life-threatening pneumonia and septicemia. Her condition deteriorated and she endured several procedures, including a tracheotomy and bronchoscopy, as she fought to stay alive. Finally, after 65 days in the hospital and 110 more in a rehabilitation facility, Cora was able to return home, determined not to leave it again.
Daniel Way, MD, her primary care physician, decided to treat Cora in her home. Home represents a sanctuary to her; it is a place where she is surrounded by her own things, in control of her life. Inspired by Cora's strength, Way, who is also a writer and photographer, decided to document her heroic battle with chronic lung disease and rheumatoid arthritis. A month after his first visit, camera in hand, he asked if she would sit in her living room in the chair by the window where the light was best. With great effort she walked the length of her house to reach the chair. Pleased with herself she announced, “This is the first time I have sat in this chair since I came home!”
Way, who has been practicing family medicine in the Adirondacks for 32 years, uses photography to solidify and strengthen his relationships with his patients. It helps him combat “compassion fatigue” and get to know “thousands of the most interesting people.” About his subjects, he writes in his first book, All in a Day's Work, “[They] are not looking at a photographer, but rather at their doctor. I feel that this crucial difference allows the true spirit and emotion of each person to shine through.” Providers’ efforts to develop personal relationships with patients in rural areas can also help patients to combat loneliness, which can be a contributing factor to various health issues. For more on loneliness in this population, see this month's CE article, “Loneliness and Quality of Life in Chronically Ill Rural Older Adults.”
Way's writing and photography can be seen on his Web site: www.danielway.com; and look for a link to his new book, Never a Dull Moment: A Tapestry of Scenes and Stories from an Adirondack Medical Practice, later this year. —Michael Fergenson, senior editorial coordinator