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UA physician and medical student bike across the country for U.S. healthcare system

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Courtesy: Dr. Paul Gordon | The Daily Wildcat

Dr. Paul Gordon, a University of Arizona professor and family medicine physician, with his wife, Dr. Eve Shapiro, on his listening tour.

Dr. Paul Gordon and Julia Liatti, a first-year medical student, are biking across the country on a listening tour where they are interested in hearing what people in different parts of the United States think about the U.S. healthcare system. 

This is the second listening tour that Gordon has been on. His first one was in 2016 with another medical student where they listened to what people thought of the Affordable Care Act. 

Gordon began his listening tour on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, with his wife, Eve Shapiro, in State College, Pennsylvania. From there they went west into Ohio and then into Michigan. They will continue biking to Wisconsin, Minnesota and their last destination in North Dakota. Liatti joined Gordon in early June in Detroit, Michigan. 

“My favorite part is the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air, in the country and seeing the U.S. on my bicycle,” Gordon said. 

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Gordon has a blog where he documents his trip and experiences as he bikes across the country. His blog can be found here.

On the blog, Liatti posted her interaction of interviewing three people in a small pop-up market. She stated in the blog post, “The sense that I got from all of them is that they want doctors to care about their health beyond just vital signs, and that they want other people to have that experience as well.” 

Throughout the blog, they post about the interactions they have with people and the things they see while traveling. In one blog post by Liatti, she wore a shirt with different words such as “Obamacare” and “ACA” to attract people to interview her. In the post, she shared what people during this interaction told her about the healthcare system. 

Liatti stated in the blog post that she asked a man if he thought healthcare is a human right. 

“He said yes, and further said he thinks most people already consider it that way — we expect to be taken care of when something bad happens,” Liatti said.

She then spoke of her interactions with Gordon, and his input was, “The reason we all expect to be taken care of in an emergency is because that’s the law.” He went on to discussed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

They post actively on this blog during their listening tour to share their interactions during their bike across the country.

Since Gordon and Liatti are doing this listening tour during COVID-19, they knew there would be some challenges with connecting with people.

In a press release Gordon said, “Because of COVID-19, I fear that with social distancing and masks, trusting relationships will be more than challenging to create. I also fear there won’t be as many people ‘out and about’ with whom I can speak.” 

Being able to gain people’s trust is an essential part of the listening tour so people feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and stories with Gordon and Liatti. 

Gordon and Liatti will finish their listening tour in early July. According to Gordon, it will be about another six years before he can do a trip like this again.


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (10/22)
1,074 8 0.7%
Total (8/4)
54,122 2,441 4.5%
Includes tests since August 4, 2020
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated October 22, 2020