Locums for a Small World Blog

Doc Abbott rides again, part 2

Posted by Saralynn White

William Richard "Rick" Abbott, MD, is an ER doctor who loves a challenge. He met his wife, Jean, on his first day of medical school—when he was assigned to a cadaver with her—and 42 years later they're still colleagues, friends and lovers (TMI?). He's a clinical professor at the University of Colorado where, if our social media is anything to go by, he's very popular. He went to Tasmania on a locum tenens assignment for us and we've written about him in our newsletter. He put this experience into his own words:

Doc Rick AbbottWhen we last left Dr. Rick Abbott, he was telling us about participating as the “doc” on a charity bike ride through California and the fundraising efforts by the participants...

The charity facility - Velindre - has three cancer care “centres” at Cardiff in the south of Wales. Funded by Britain's National Health Service, it also has a fundraising arm. The charitable donations to Velindre have built a new hospital wing, funded research and provided niceties for patients—especially those without family support. It has also helped fund outreach programs for those living some distance from the centre, like remote chemotherapy infusion locations.  

The required contribution to ride in this event was about $7,000 USD and as we rode along, I heard the stories of what people did to raise money: golf tournaments, music festivals, garage sales, auction off the kids to clean your house or weed your gardens, etc. Schools raised money by selling "no uniform days" for a British pound per day. One rider's wife is a professional opera singer and they "busked" (the term for what’s basically a street performance). In this case, the couple dressed up and did a funny show while she and her voice students sang—
a long way from her other gigs at the Met and La Scala.

describe the imageCardiff in Wales

 







 


One poker tournament with 1,000 pound purse raised 8,000 pounds and went until 4 a.m. There was a lot more, but what impressed me so much was that not one person I talked to came in anywhere near the required minimum $7,000 USD for the trip contributions—they all beat it!

Some of the participants were connected to the centre because family and friends had been treated there; some were employees of the centre; some were just there to do some good. We had Olympians and even a few Para-Olympians. Some of the riders were experienced cyclists; some had never ridden any real distances; and all reported this event was the hardest thing they'd ever done.

The Wales countrysideCyling for charity through central California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here's what struck me about all of this: There's a tendency for Americans to think of a National Health System as purely a governmental entitlement. In the UK, anyone can walk into a hospital or medical office and get care. No paperwork, no cost, no payments, no fighting with the insurance companies—just sit back and let them take care of you. But, this gang of Welsh riders taught me about a part of the NHS that had only previously been hinted at: There really is more.

The volunteers, contributors and other folks make a huge effort to do something for an important institution, and ultimately they make the institution far better: more user-friendly and up-to-date than it would be without the help. I liken it to a street that is installed by a city government: the neighbors plants flower beds, spruce it up with sculptures and even add some nice benches—all to make the basics better.

I was impressed by the whole concept and even more impressed by the individuals who made the effort (including the community back home who supported them). Oh, yeah, the scenery and the cycling were great, too.

Monterey Coast in CaliforniaTwilight at the Golden Gate Bridge


Topics: Dr. Rick Abbott, San Francisco

"Doc" Rick Abbott rides again (part 1)

Posted by Saralynn White

describe the imageWilliam Richard "Rick" Abbott, MD, is an ER doctor who loves a challenge. He met his wife, Jean, on his first day of medical school—when he was assigned to a cadaver with her—and 42 years later they're still colleagues, friends and lovers (TMI?). He's a clinical professor at the University of Colorado where, if our social media is anything to go by, he's very popular. He went to Tasmania on a locum tenens assignment for us and we've written about him in our newsletter. He put this experience into his own words:


I've had some great experiences doing things that came out of nowhere and were unplanned (and probably should have been thought out better). A couple of years ago, I took a "cold call" directed to my wife asking if she might be interested in a job in Australia. I said she wouldn't, but I might. About eight months later I was just north of Antarctica, working in Launceston—a former penal colony in Tasmania—at what is their finest hospital (in my opinion).

Then about a month ago Global Medical (the same folks who sent me to Australia) contacted me with a request: would I be willing to volunteer as a medic on a week-long bicycle ride for charity. Scott Wilson, the recruiter, knew I was an avid cyclist so a few calls and emails later I was ensconced as the "Doc" on the ride.  

We rode from beautiful Yosemite Valley, through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, across the windy flats of the San Joaquin Delta, out to the California coast, and then south to the highlight of the trip—across the Golden Gate Bridge. The scenery was incredible, the camping was delightful, the food was good...yada, yada, yada.

San Juaquin Delta in CaliforniaYosemite Valley








But wait! There's more...

There actually was some medical stuff to do. One rider used her face to do an imitation of a broom sweeping up the road and got rather colorful set of facial abrasions and bruises. One rider had a fractured radius and rode in a cast. And one who was three weeks out from a pelvis fracture and had to use crutches to get to the bicycle but rode for at least part of each day. By the way, the charity supplied a kit (which they use for all of their fundraising "expeditions) that included stuff for high altitude sickness and even a pregnancy test!

In California's Central ValleyMade it to the bridge!

 

 

 

 





But wait! There's more...

Did I mention the group was from Wales? It’s one of the reasons that I was interested in this "job". My family emigrated from there in 1906 and it turns out one cyclist lives on the outskirts of the town where my family came from. Many of the riders knew the town well, explaining it recently underwent a “rehab” and is no longer a pile of run down old mines and slag heaps, but "green" and pleasant. I even learned how to say "Hi" in Welsh - though since I can't gargle well enough to speak Welsh words, the pronunciation of "shwmai" is a mystery to me. 


The finish line The iconic Golden Gate Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

But wait! There's more...

I knew basically nothing about the charity the ride was for—Velindre, a cancer care center (or "centre" as it were) at Cardiff in the south of Wales (much smaller in population and area than my home state of Colorado). Google helped me and the group helped even more, but that’s another story for another day. I will tell you this: the required contribution to ride in this event was about $7,000 USD and fundraising efforts covered the gamut...

Topics: Dr. Rick Abbott, San Francisco

Locums for a Small World Blog

Twice a month, our inquisitive locum tenens community asks us to tackle topics ranging from cuisine and culture to recreation and entertainment. We also include great storytelling from our doctors. Have a topic you’d like to read about? Let us know.

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