My turn: Pro-fluoride doctors deserve better

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2007

There have been harsh letters directed at Dr. Carolyn Brown. Brown has spent her adult life helping people. She is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and holds a master's degree in public health and epidemiology.

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She has practiced medicine for 40 years. During medical school, she went to Tanzania to donate her skills to those in deepest poverty. She ran an Anchorage medical clinic for people with no money and another Anchorage clinic for people trying to recover from drug addiction.

Her husband, Dr. George Brown, is a board certified pediatrician. They both recently returned from volunteering for 18 months in a Kenyan orphanage for AIDS children. They literally risked their lived for no pay to aid children who had little hope. They also ran a women's and children's clinic in Palmer for many years.

These are people who religiously read the medical journals in their fields and stay current with scientific developments but who are open to alternative treatment. They have helped thousands of Alaska women and children.

The Browns don't drive big cars. They live in a condo in Douglas, and you don't see them wear fancy clothes. They volunteer.

Carolyn has been deeply involved for many years in health care for women and children in Juneau, Anchorage and Palmer. She has been an important part of the Women's Health Forum and the effort against HIV and AIDS and persists in many ways in trying to improve Alaskans' health.

Carolyn did an important study on suicide among Alaska teens. For years, she has been involved in training to provide examinations for sexually assaulted women and children. She has agreed to do sexual assault exams for victims at any time of the day or night in Juneau. Anyone who has dealt with her or listened to her interview show on KTOO knows Carolyn is the best-prepared person in the room in any meeting she participates in.

George volunteers his time in training and caring for physically and sexually abused children. He is an important part of the Child Advocacy Center here. He is on call many nights and weekends, as many Juneau parents of children in distress can tell you. He presents a professional paper at least once a year some place in the United States on children's health. He was the first recipient of the prestigious Henry Kemp Center award for the prevention of child abuse. Both Carolyn and George regularly volunteer for the Health Fair and many other public events.

The Brown doctors believe all persons should have health care regardless of how much they make or their age or ethnic background. They believe the community and country have an obligation to help make health care available. They have never shrunk from a fight over it.

The Browns supported the effort to have fluoride returned to Juneau's water, believing it was important to children's health. During that time, they never said anything disparaging or derogatory about anyone opposing fluoride. The community decided that the possible harm from fluoride was more important than the benefit to children's health. A community in this state has that right.

There is no responsible way to impugn the motives, competence or willingness of doctors Carolyn and George Brown to practice medicine in the interests of others. They put themselves on the line for the benefit of others and for no advantage to themselves. They deserve respect. They are examples of the art of civil discourse. We could all learn from them. They have been a precious gift to this state. They deserve better treatment than they have received at the newspaper.

• Larry Weeks is a resident of Douglas.



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