UA professor, student bike more than 1,000 miles talking healthcare and COVID-19

UA Professor bike travel

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A University of Arizona physician and a first-year medical student recently got back from a multi-state, hundreds of miles bike listening tour.

Dr. Paul Gordon, a UA physician and professor, along with medical student, Julia Liatti, and others hit the road in the middle of the pandemic. Their goal—only to listen.

“(It) just reinforces…listening is the critical component in providing good healthcare,” said Dr. Gordon.

The group was listening to people on the topic of healthcare, the healthcare system in the US and how people viewed COVID-19. Dr. Gordon rode about 1,800 miles in about two months listening to people and having conversations in some of the more rural parts of the nation. His journey was started in May 2020, Liatti met up later after finishing the school semester. Liatti, who plans on being a general practitioner, said the nearly 1,300 miles she rode, listening, interviewing and recording conversations gave her perspective on how to be a better doctor.

During the two-month journey, they said a theme regarding health care and COVID-19, was people relying on personal beliefs, not facts.
During the two-month journey, they said a theme regarding health care and COVID-19, was people relying on personal beliefs, not facts. (Source: KOLD)

“Nobody gets to pick their patients …and you still have to understand what’s important to them and why,” she said.

The group rode through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota and ending in Fargo, North Dakota early July.

“We went through counties in the northern part of the country where there may have been one or two patients, total, with COVID,” said Dr. Gordon.

During the two-month journey, they said a theme regarding health care and COVID-19, was people relying on personal beliefs, not facts.

“It was very hurtful to see the level of polarization and of hatred,” said Liatti.

Dr. Gordon recalled a time he spoke with a man during the tour on the day the US reported a total of 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19.

“He told me no, that’s all a scam, it’s not really COVID,” he said.

The two said they are working on a manuscript now with the interviews they recorded, and hope to publish one soon, but the biggest thing they are taking away from the experience, is the power of listening.

This is the second listening tour Dr. Gordon has gone on—his first in 2016 to discuss the Affordable Care Act. Read about their journey here https://bikelisteningtour.wordpress.com.

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