It’s HERE! National Public Health Week!

Woooo! Check out the cool events this week!

The Toilet Man

When I walked into my office building today, I thought it was going to be like any other day. Go to my office. Drop off my bag. Take out my lunch from my bag and go to the pantry room to put it in the fridge. Fill up my water bottle. Get a cup of coffee. Go back to my office. And really begin the day.

Of course, that all changed when I got out of the elevator and heard my boss yelling out my name.

A few weeks ago, she emailed my department asking for volunteers for an internal training video that they were doing on hospital room infection/contamination. I replied late and said that if they were in a bind and were up for my William Shatner-style of acting, then I’d be down. Never heard back from her, so I figured I wasn’t selected – which is fine. It adds to my growing number of audition rejections that includes MTV’s Real World and a Kaiser Permanente commercial ad.

Well, apparently they were in a bind. They were shooting the video this morning and needed someone to play a male patient. My boss asked if I was free, so I checked my schedule and I was. Within an hour, I was taking the bus down to the main hospital campus and went to the hospital room where they were shooting the video. They gave me a hospital gown to put over my work clothes, taped an IV tube on my arm, and gave me my directions.

My role was a male patient who had gone to the bathroom. My directions were to flush the toilet, move my IV unit outside the bathroom door, wash my hands as I talked to my nurse, and then go back holding the IV unit. The point is that I had contaminated the IV machine with my unwashed hands and that the nurse contaminated herself by touching the same spot afterwards. Seemed simple enough, though I did ask what my motivation was. I also asked if they wanted me to go to the bathroom for real. There was no scripted dialogue either, so I was allowed to improvise and say whatever came natural to me. They were in trouble for doing it.

We ended up doing something like 8-9 different takes of the scene. As a side note, this should only be like a 1 minute scene. There was a lot of discussion about the angle they should shoot the scene. There was even a debate whether or not I should flush the toilet. After getting through 2 complete takes of the scene, it was a wrap and they moved on to the next scenes. I changed back to my work clothes and soon after, took the bus back to my office building. And it was just about when I got to my office and saw my office-mate, when it hit me.

I am now the Toilet Patient of the hospital. Or at least to those who see me in the video for whatever training purposes they are using it for. What a way to start out at a new place, eh?

Rolling on…

Dear friends,

It’s been a while since I last reported and I have been mostly waiting for something eventful to have happened. I have been to a few museums already, celebrated a few holidays with the locals, and proceeded with my research plan. The people at the NGO have been extremely helpful assisting me with certain logistical issues. The NGO does a lot of work with commercial sex workers and I will soon be going in their van to observe some outreach work. On Thursday I finally got IRB approval here and so I am good to go with my research. Tomorrow I will be going to a narcology clinic (basically a clinic where they treat drug abuse) to deliver my survey and informed consent forms as well as compensation for participating in the study. It’s kinda crazy how all of this stuff that was once all jumbled in my head a few months ago is now coming to reality. I suppose that is one of the greatest aspects of doing research. In the mean time, I thought I would share this video of a few Russian kids and one conspicuously larger, older, and bare-chested Russian kid dancing the night away (btw – the video was taken at 9:00 pm. Since St. Petersburg is so far north, the sun sets very late in the summer for a period known as “beliy nochi”, or “white nights”). I am curious to hear how everyone else’s summer is going so please post something.
Thanks and hope all is well wherever you may be!

Innovative uses of condoms, as reported by UNFPA country officers

Note: the stories here won’t be found in official UN country reports, as they are transcribed from a night out drinking with my colleagues, but I assure you they are true…

It is UNFPA/UN Cares/UNAIDS policy to have condoms available at all office bathrooms. A friend at the office who used to work in Paupa New Guinea noticed that every time a new supply was put out, it would be gone. So she finally asked the women working in the office, “where are all the condoms going??”. She looked over to see her colleague with an opened wrapper, using the condom’s lubricant on her arm – as a moisturizer. 🙂

Similar stories began to unfold this evening, out to dinner with friends. Here’s a brief summary:

UN Papua New Guinea: women use lubricant from the condoms as moisturizer

UN Jordan: women open up condoms to store their earrings and other jewelry in transit

Thailand: male students use the lubricant covered condoms to shine their shoes for their school uniform


Vietnam: youth catwalk fashion shows w/ outfits made of condoms & pills (see photo)

Taking my ideas to Congress!

Hey YPH blog readers,

Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve been busy presenting my ideas for health reform to Congress! This past Monday, the Roosevelt Institution as well as Senator Bingaman and Senator Lugar helped me organize a briefing in the Capitol for me to present my new Brookings Institution paper on automatic enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP.

We had a number of really top experts from think tanks across DC discussing my paper, which was a little intimidating, but also really cool. Overall people really seemed to like it, and now we’re going to begin the task of trying to get the idea included in health care reform!

I can’t wait to hear more aboutwhat you’re all up to this summer…

The Krispy Kreme Challenge

I saw this story on ESPN a few weeks ago about the Krispy Kreme Challenge that they have at UNC. It made me think: is this the best charity run ever or perhaps a public health disaster in the making?

Discuss amongst yourselves…

How bright will seem through memory’s haze…


All good things must come to an end. After 5 wonderful years here at Yale, me and my cohort of BA-MPH students will finally be graduating (for real this time!) Tonight we celebrated with a nice dinner at Scoozi…