The Mississipi Delta’s healthcare blues

Anne Brooks, a nun and a physician, has struggled for years to treat the poor at a run-down clinic in Tutwiler. The nation’s new healthcare law could help – but her state is fighting it.

Reporting from Tutwiler, Miss. — This crumbling Delta town, set amid cotton fields, abandoned railroad tracks and cypress-studded bayous, is a hard place.

So hard that the plaintive sound of a local musician drawing a knife blade across the strings of his guitar gave birth to the blues here a century ago. So hard that a Roman Catholic nun named Anne Brooks has struggled for the last 27 years to keep a medical clinic open for the poor.

“It’s a pretty hand-to-mouth existence,” said Brooks, 71, a physician with a wry sensibility and a profane streak. Brooks earned a medical degree at age 44 before coming to the Mississippi Delta to open the Tutwiler Clinic with the blessing of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

LA Times
6/2/10