Sophie Barbant, M.D. trained cardiologist had a patient Madeleine, who had to make a tough choice, take care of her family and die or take care of herself and live.
Barbant, originally from France, first met Madeleine in her role as the Director of the Cardiology Clinic at Alameda Health System-Highland Hospital. “Madeleine left Cameroon several years ago because she believed she was having a stroke. She and her family felt she would never get the type of healthcare she needed where she lived,” said Barbant.
Her brother had a contact in the Bay Area who told him about Highland Hospital so he arranged for Madeleine ’s flight to California. Once Madeleine was at Highland and examined she was showing common symptoms treated in the clinic, minor chest pain, hypertension, nothing that couldn’t be managed but Madeleine didn’t have these treatment options in her hometown. “I later found out that she left her three children in Cameroon. That was incredible to me, for a mother to be separated from her family because she needed healthcare.”
Madeleine’s condition improved and Barbant was shocked to still see her, “I would say, you are stable, what are you still doing here? And she would say, ‘Dr. Barbant, I don’t have the money to go back.’ The issue was more complex than I realized.” Over the years, Barbant and Madeleine developed a relationship, especially since they are both from countries that speak French. Madeleine was very homesick and being able to communicate with someone in a familiar language provided her with great comfort.
“Earlier this year Madeleine stopped by the clinic and she said, ‘Dr. Barbant, I was finally able to purchase my ticket and I wanted to let you know I was leaving.’ I felt honored she wanted to touch base with me before she went home.”
Barabant and Madeleine took pictures with Madeleine ’s phone and Madeleine gave Dr. Barbant what some refer to as a “boubou” it is a free flowing gown/robe that is worn in Cameroon. “She finally got back to her family and I am so happy for her.”