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D.C., is one of just two US cities to have a government condom-distribu- tion program. “I consider it a success story,” Edge says. “We’ve launched an award-winning social marketing cam- paign, a female condom initiative, and a program for youths in all public schools.” In the five years since its in- ception, the effort went from dispens- ing 500,000 condoms annually to nearly 5 million.

When Edge graduated from Skid- more, she worked as a paralegal at the Legal Aid Society in New York City be- fore switching gears and entering grad school for Africana studies at SUNY- Albany. During a summer in Ghana and Ethiopia, she was struck by the overwhelming effects of HIV/AIDS there and decided to pursue a career in public health.

Back in the States, she worked as a client advocate for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, serving a largely black and Latino population. She says


many issues within the poor and minority communities there mirrored those she encountered at the Legal Aid Society. She was frustrated by “inadequate public health structures and re- sponses for establishing sustainable solutions.” In D.C., where she recently earned a master’s in public health from George Washington University, Edge says she enjoys the satisfaction of “making a difference for the people of the city that I live in and that I love, by promoting safe sex and sexual health.” One public health issue she’d like to make disappear: “un- equal access to quality health care.” She says, “Everyone plays a part in addressing public health issues, from medical practi- tioners and mental-health providers to lawmakers and individ- ual citizens. We all have an important role in making sure we have access to the best possible health care system.” She adds that she is “very excited” about this summer’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Her vision for the future of public health? Tailoring services to the clients is crucial, so she’d like to see “sustainable com- munity clinics that provide education on preventive initiatives as well as mental and physical treatment for specific popula- tions.” She wants to use her training to “implement programs that approach issues with lasting, comprehensive solutions based on both health and social considerations.” She advocates a public-private mix “where medical providers work with com- munity and faith-based organizations, welfare agencies, and the businesses around them to nurture stability and empower- ment in at-risk communities—and help families feel a sense of worth for themselves.” —MTS


Elspeth Seddig ’94 first came to Skid- more to study art. Her deep examina- tions of woodcut prints depicting healers and witches in medieval Eu- rope led to a fascination with curative powers. As she continued her work in and out of the art studio, she also learned, through imagery and text, about the healing traditions “beyond conventional medicine,” she recalls. “And I began to wonder. . .” Later, teaching art in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Seddig visited with a group of midwives, doctors, healers, medical students, and home- opaths from around the world who’d gathered there to study and lend a hand in local clinics. After sharing a few thought-provoking dinners with them, she knew she had found her true calling: “to make the world a better place through healing.” With her recently earned doctorate of naturopathic medicine from the

National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore., Seddig now practices in San Francisco, together with an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist and a psychiatrist. Conventional west- ern medicine, Seddig notes, “is phenomenal for acute and emergency care. Every day it saves people’s lives. However, when patients don’t feel well and standard diagnostic proce- dures show they are ‘healthy,’ a doctor of naturopathy can often find non-life-threatening issues like food allergies or gut inflammation.”

Her training does not involve surgery or trauma medicine, but focuses on primary and chronic problems such as respira- tory infections, sleep or digestive issues, and hormonal imbal- ances. She begins with a comprehensive intake that pays close attention to life circumstances and subtle factors—from stress and diet to family history and environmental exposures—that might contribute to health problems. She also assesses symp- toms that could point to chemicals or toxins in the environ- ment that have begun to bio-accumulate in the patient. Treat- ments offered at her office (which she describes as “harmonious space”) include medication management, detoxification, vita- mins, mindfulness meditation, diet modification, and lifestyle changes, usually with pharmaceuticals only as a last resort. As deeply as she once examined medieval art, the doctor now investigates root causes that may be leading to disturb- ing symptoms. The approach, she explains, is designed to “optimize health and use preventive measures” that empower patients to influence and improve their own well-being. “It’s a paradigm of wellness versus ‘dis-ease,’ and I believe it is the wave of the future.” —Helen S. Edelman ’74

FALL 2012 SCOPE 29


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