Sometimes, you can’t go home again
As news reports make clear, not everyone has returned to New Orleans after the storm. Some orthopaedic surgeons were among those who found new homes and new positions in other cities.
Kyle F. Dickson, MD, who helped evacuate patients from Charity Hospital and Tulane University Hospital, relocated with his family to Baton Rouge, La., after the storm because the hospitals in which he worked were unable to function. Dr. Dickson is now professor and chairman of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Because his home was located in Lakeview, an area of New Orleans that was submerged under 12 feet of water, Dr. Dickson and his family lost most of their possessions in the flood.
“A lot of physicians tried to come back, but they realized that the patient population base has decreased to about three-quarters of what it was beforehand,” says Dr. Dickson.
Dr. Dickson says, grudgingly, that he has no plans to return to the city he used to call home. He cites the emotional impact of living through Katrina as one of the reasons he and his family decided not to return to New Orleans.
“If you lived in New Orleans, you have this feeling that’s almost like guilt: you want to go back and rebuild because the city has so much soul. I’m an orthopaedic surgeon, so I don’t get sappy, but it took me until this April to finally put my house up for sale. We really thought that we’d go back. I still love the city,” says Dr. Dickson.
“There are a lot of people who say that New Orleans used to be a swamp, so we should let it return to the swamp,” he says. “I disagree with them because of my fervor for the city.”
Like Dr. Dickson, thousands of others—whether they live in New Orleans or not—believe in the continuing rebirth of the city. The 2007 celebrations of Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest were highly successful, and the New Orleans Saints are playing in the Superdome again. Businesses and organizations are booking their conferences in New Orleans, including the AAOS, which will return to New Orleans for its Annual Meeting in 2010.