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The Health Department 

click to enlarge oliver.jpg

My small family spent this past New Year's Eve in the hospital. Actually, my husband let me go home that night — we were taking turns staying overnight with my son, Oliver, at the Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care. He had an unusual ear ailment that necessitated plumbing the depths of our creativity to entertain a 4-year-old through four days of IV antibiotics.

Thankfully, he's better now. Which is not the case for many kids in the hospital: One afternoon we heard what sounded like a fast-paced game of Ping-Pong in a nearby room. We asked a nurse about it, and she told us we were hearing the sound of chest compressions on a child with cystic fibrosis.

Health. It's amazing how little we think about it until there's a problem.

In another part of the hospital, the Pediatric Immigrant Clinic, Dr. Andrea Green tries to anticipate problems before they happen. The subject of this month's cover story, Green works with Vermont's growing population of children from Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bhutan, Somalia, Burma — the list of nations goes on. Using a combination of psychology, anthropology and medicine, Green winds up learning about much more than their health.

For example, many new Americans are troubled and confused by the way girls are portrayed in U.S. culture. So is Ken Picard, who writes this month about the perils of raising a girlie-girl daughter. Hopefully his essay will generate as much feedback as last month's about a stay-at-home mom going back to work. That's our goal: to entertain, educate and engage you.

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