Written by: Pritam Neupane, MBBS, FACP, FCCP – Memorial Hospital Pulmonology
It was 1798 when Edward Jennings discovered the first vaccination against small pox. It was a mere 1928 when Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which changed the way we treat infections. Although that was more than 85 years ago, it is still a widely used medication in the area of infectious disease. If we talk to some people, stories are still fresh about sham healing and various folk medicines with animal and plants products. Born in Nepal, I myself have been taken to traditional healers on a number of occasions when I had fever as a child. People who have practiced medicine and live outside of the United States witness these phenomenon much more on a daily basis.
Early on, with better understanding of disease processes and with significant strides in public health measures, most of the common illnesses were rapidly taken under control in developed countries. Hygiene, safe drinking water and immunizations were the measures that made the most difference. Soon, the diseases that continue to plague developing nations today were nearly eliminated in developed countries.
However, with time, the so-called diseases of the modern world evolved and rapidly reached epidemic proportions. Coronary artery disease and cancer became major killers and conditions like diabetes, hypertension, kidney diseases and lung problems became commonplace. With parallel advances in medicine, people with these diseases continued to live longer. As they got older, the interplay of many conditions made their diseases more complex. Thus, care of many patients requires more resources and expertise in the present day. These days, a multi-disciplinary team that includes personnel with different skill sets is required to care for most patients. Gone are the days when a doctor took care of everything single-handedly and now many patients who survive major illnesses, due to their complexity, cannot be cared for at home and thus require to be observed at skilled nursing facilities.
On the other hand, the diseases that were once thought to be history have resurfaced on many fronts. Wrong information on vaccination issues have led parents not to vaccinate their children, resulting in major outbreaks of conditions like measles. Travel and immunosuppression due to HIV or cancer medications or transplant medications have led to resurgence of conditions like tuberculosis. Most importantly, common infections, which used to be taken care of by simple antibiotics, are now a major threat of alarming proportions due to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. Frankly speaking, people today could die, like they did before the era of penicillin, due to bugs that are resistant to most antibiotics we have.
Availability of care also continues to be a major challenge in countries that do not have many resources. During my practice of medicine outside of the United States, I have met people who have never seen a doctor in their lives. Common diarrheal and respiratory illness of children and complications of pregnancy and labor continue to be major killers in many developing countries. Although the US is considered a developed country, access and availability continues to be a problem here due to socioeconomic conditions and the geography. “Frontier medicine” like that of many parts of Wyoming, is a typical example where there is lack of services primarily due to distance from metropolitan areas.
It is not uncommon for people here in Sweetwater County to be frustrated when they have to travel long distances to see a specialist. Moreover, when that provider tells them that they have to be transferred somewhere else for further care, their problem heightens. However, I do think there are plenty of reasons for us to be thankful here in our community. Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County is rapidly expanding and we now offer many services for which patients don’t have to travel for anymore – cancer treatment, pulmonology, oral surgery and addiction medicine to name only a few that have been added in the recent past.
The plight of the people, due to unavailability of services, was what made me choose Memorial Hospital among many affluent job opportunities in bigger cities. During my medical career, I have always served in areas where people are in need and I saw that first-hand here regarding pulmonary disease and critical care services. All will not come at once, but definitely there is a true potential in this place and with the right support from its residents, Memorial Hospital will continue to grow and expand to meet the needs of its community.
Dr. Pritam Neupane was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. Dr. Neupane says, “Nepal is the ‘country of the mountains’ where we have 8 of the 13 highest mountains, including Mt. Everest.” He went to medical school in Nepal and served in the emergency room in a tertiary care center in the city of Kathmandu and also served in some of the very remote parts of the country for 3 years before moving to the US for residency. Dr. Neupane finished residency from Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital Program in Internal Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland (His team won the state Jeopardy Championship when he was an intern there). He then completed a fellowship in pulmonary/critical care in Georgia Health Science University, Augusta GA, the town of the Masters (golf tournament). He was awarded the “Fellow of the Year Award” and nominated for the “Resident of the Year award” ’while he was there. Dr. Neupane is Board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease and critical care medicine.
Dr. Neupane says, “I was attracted to WY because of the hills and mountains and the passion to help the hard-working, sincere and realistic people who are in need.” He enjoys nature and mountains, trekking and meeting new people and learning new culture. This attraction to the mountains led to scientific work in high-altitude medicine, which he did for several years in Nepal. He lives in Rock Springs with his wife, Kalpana, and enjoys working out, travel, and hopes to pick up horseback riding and skiing.
Dr. Neupane sees patients in the Medical Office & Physician Clinic – Internal Medicine clinic. You can reach his office at 307-212-7711. Find out more information at www.sweetwatermemorial.com