Those trips have been very exciting, but they move more slowly because none of their physicians can come here and work in our hospitals, Dr. Bailey said, noting the barrier created by the poor diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and the fact that visiting Cubans are given asylum and may be tempted to defect. A few Cuban physicians have come to meetings in the United States after arrangements have been made to make certain they will return. REI-Cuba makes the visa arrangements for teams that visit from the United States and runs interference with the bureaucratic hassles that can arise from either government.
Explore This IssueJune 2006
However, he stressed that the difficulties are only between governments and not among individuals. We’ve been welcomed in both places without any hostility, Dr. Bailey said. On our last trip to Cuba we were able to visit a cochlear implant rehabilitation center that was almost as good as one in the United States. However, he added that such sophistication is not typical of Cuban health care.
Intelligence and Compassion
Seeing the intelligence and compassion of the physicians in the visited countries was very moving to him, he noted. It’s so easy to get dissatisfied and disgruntled, but when you see the situations that our colleagues in other countries are dealing with, you see how fortunate we are in this country, he said. We’re working with doctors who will never have enough money to own a car-they’ll be riding a motorbike for the rest of their careers. Something changes when you see that.
An Illustrious Career, at Home and Abroad
Long before Dr. Byron J. Bailey began traveling to Vietnam and Cuba to share his knowledge and experience with otologaryngologists overseas, he was known at home as a dedicated and compassionate clinician, a mentor for many US otolaryngologists, and a prominent leader for the specialty.
Dr. Bailey earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma, and went on to receive his MD from the Medical School there in 1959. He completed his residency at the University of California-Los Angeles and joined the UCLA faculty, where he initiated a residency training program. In 1986, he left California in order to found the otolaryngology-head and neck surgery department at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He stepped down as Chair of the department in 2003, and was appointed Chair Emeritus the following year.
Dr. Bailey has published over 200 journal articles and book chapters, in addition to authoring or editing 15 books, including the new fourth edition of Head & Neck Surgery-Otolaryngology (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006). He has also served as editor of the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the Year Book of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and The Laryngoscope during his career.