J.K. Wall
November 4, 2009
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The Indianapolis-based honor society of nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, gave its highest award to Greg Mortenson for his work promoting improved health in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mortenson, the bestselling author of “Three Cups of Tea,” was a nurse before he began starting schools, especially for girls, in the remote mountains of the central Asian countries. Mortsenson even spent three years in Indianapolis in the 1980s, working as a nurse on heart surgery teams at St. Vincent and Methodist hospitals. He also earned a graduate degree in physiology at IUPUI. He now resides in Montana.

IBJ: You came to Indianapolis in 1985. What brought you here?
A: Indianapolis was on the cutting of edge of some heart surgery [and] artificial hearts. I was also interested in grad school. It was an incredible opportunity. I had a lot of fun here. I used to go to the Indy 500 and the Colts games, and I used to go to a restaurant called Renee’s once in a while. I lived up in Zionsville for a while. I had a little place out in the woods. I was very peaceful there.

IBJ: How did your time in nursing help in your work in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
A: It’s helped me tremendously. Where I work, one out of three children dies before the age of 1. A lot of it’s from dehydration or from very simply treated diseases. Also, the maternal mortality rate, which means the number of women that die in childbirth, is 1,900 per 100,000 live births. The U.S is like 17, just to give you a comparison.

IBJ: You’ve been involved in health care in the United States and now you’re quite involved in health care in other countries. What should Americans most appreciate about health care here?
A: We’re so blessed with our health care here. We’re very compassionate people, we’re very courageous people. We’re also a very innovative people. That all has applications in health care.


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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...