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Far afield

Ruth Farrales Lindberg (MD ’03) and Doug Lindberg (MD ’03) spent three years running a hospital in the foothills of the Himalaya in Nepal. By ANASTASIA BUSIEK

uth Farrales Lindberg (MD ’03) and Doug Lindberg (MD ’03) arrived in Kath- mandu with their 3-year-old daughter, Maddie, in 2009. They needed to immerse themselves in Nepali language and culture before moving out of

the capital city and into a rural area in the foothills of the western Himalaya, where they would go on to run a 50-bed mission hospital, providing clinical care, taking on administrative, fundraising, recruiting, and training duties, and participating in a community health outreach program.

“Kathmandu was hard,” Doug says. “We spent

however many years between college, medi- cal school, and residency establishing a skill set, becoming good doctors. But in Kathmandu, we were like children in a new place. We weren’t doing what we were good at. There was culture shock and the stress of being away, and we placed a high value on assimilation, because we needed to be able to communicate effectively. It wasn’t an easy chapter.” Doug and Ruth met in medical school at Loyola.

They interviewed on the same day. They both felt called to work overseas and among the poor. “We had several friends at Loyola who were of

the same mind,” Doug says. “The emphasis on ser- vice there was an important part of our time there. In the first few years that was cemented, and then Ruth and I started dating and committing toward

heading overseas.” They married in 2003. They first visited Nepal during their third year

of residency in family medicine. They found the hospital to be a good fit, and returned, after more training in the States, through a US-based organi- zation called TEAM—a Christian mission organiza- tion that facilitates health care work overseas. In Kathmandu, the Lindbergs took one-on-one

Nepali language lessons during the day, trading off sessions watching their daughter. They lived in a few places for a month or so each before settling into an apartment for a year, adjusting to a very different way of life. In June 2010, in a truck packed to the gills with all their belongings, Doug made the 26-hour overland drive—through flat southern Nepal at first, and eventually on windy mountain roads—to their new home and life in Dadeldhura in the western part of the country.

Ruth and Maddie flew from Kathmandu to an air- port 4 hours outside of Dadeldhura to meet him. Dadeldhura sits at about 6,000 feet of elevation

in the Himalayan foothills. The climate is temper- ate and usually not below freezing for more than a couple weeks a year, although homes are not climate-controlled, and neither is the hospital. “There is a paved road coming up from the

southern part of country, the main artery. It went right past the hospital, so many people could get to it,” Doug says. “It’s a beautiful place. You could see the high Himalaya on clear days off to the north.” Dadeldhura’s 50-bed hospital serves a popula-

tion of about a million people. “It was the only hospital where a woman could

get a C-section in an area with the population of metropolitan Dallas. People traveled for several days to get there,” Doug says. A month after the Lindbergs arrived, the senior doctor and former medical director moved on, leaving Doug—then the senior clinician—unexpectedly in charge. “We jumped in with both feet,” Doug says. “The

medicine was challenging. For the first six months, never a day went by where we didn’t see a disease we’d never seen or a pathology advanced past what we’d seen before. There were jaw-dropping

Dadeldhura sits at about 6,000 feet of elevation in rural western Nepal. A 50-bed hospital serves a population of about 1 million people. 20 LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO

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