On the Ragged Edge of Medicine: Doctoring Among the Dispossessed
Oregon State University Press 2017
On the Ragged Edge of Medicine offers a unique and personal glimpse into a medical practice for the homeless and urban poor in Portland, Oregon. Told through fifteen patient vignettes and drawn from the author’s decades of experience on the front lines, this revealing memoir illuminates the impact of poverty on the delivery of health services and the ways in which people adapt and survive (or don’t survive) in conditions of abuse and deprivation. Kullberg’s stories show the direct and sometimes devastating effects of poverty on personal health, poignantly demonstrating that medicine is as much a social enterprise as a scientific one.
This collection of narratives is filled with questions about the realities people face in their everyday lives and the inadequacies of medicine to remedy them. A life-saving procedure is refused without explanation; an agoraphobic woman suffers silently and fails to cope; an accidental overdose takes another life. Delving into her daily interactions with patients, Kullberg muses on the impact of scarce resources, the ways she managed to succeed, the fall-out of her own mistakes, and the strategies she used to keep her sanity.
Written for anyone interested in the limits and possibilities of medicine within a context of social inequity, On the Ragged Edge of Medicine draws the reader into the big tragedies, small victories, and everyday mishaps of medicine when ministering to the destitute.
Girl in the River
Bygone Era Books 2015
Mae Rose, a high dollar hooker, icy and independent, has risen to the top of her game by sexually dominating the rich and powerful within the corrupt world of men who operate World War II era Portland to their own considerable advantage. She manages to juggle a District Attorney who is dangerously obsessed with her and two love affairs on the side until each demands an exclusive relationship at the very moment she becomes pregnant. She seeks an end to her pregnancy from the premier abortionist of the Pacific Northwest, the flamboyant Dr. Ruth Barnett. Her love life in tatters, she quits hooking to work for Ruth and patches things up with her one true love. All is well until the war ends, when Dottie “Do-good” Lee is elected Portland’s first lady mayor on an anti-vice platform, and the political tides shift. Mae is nabbed in a police raid on Ruth Barnett’s abortion clinic, landing Mae back in the clutches of the DA, who is now uniquely positioned—if she refuses to service his sexual needs—to destroy her life.
Girl in the River is a portrait of the intimate lives of women during one of the most corrupt periods in Portland history. It’s an unflinching look at the power dynamics of sex; a glimpse into the work life of a call girl; an improbable love story; the tale of post-war assaults on reproductive rights; and a tribute to two remarkable and remarkably different women who shaped the lives of Portlanders during those tumultuous times: Dr. Ruth Barnett and Mayor Dorothy Lee.