Ethnographic research in the Refill Clinic at Highland in Oakland, California. 

Esveldt, Michael. Ethnographic research in the Refill Clinic at Highland in Oakland, California. Pilot Research. 2017

This research will investigate how clinicians and staff manage the prescription and refill of opiates and other medications in a primary care clinic in Oakland, California. At Highland ethnographic research in the Refill Clinic at Highland Hospital, a public teaching hospital with a mandate from Alameda County to provide comprehensive health services to those unable to afford or access private insurance, patients often present with multiple comorbidities like Type II diabetes, hypertension, and chronic pain. Unlike acute conditions, which have often been understood to be the paradigmatic case of American medicine, and which are amenable to isolated therapeutic interventions, treating multiple chronic conditions demands the management of health over time and thus the maintenance of close ties between patients, clinicians, and the hospital. For patients and clinicians at Highland Hospital, the work of chronic care requires a significant investment of time and resources simply to dispense and acquire medications deemed medically necessary by hospital clinicians. By pursuing a deeper understanding of the social, bureaucratic, infrastructural, and technical means of filling and refilling medications, particularly tightly controlled pharmaceuticals like opiates, this research will contribute to the understanding of the ways in which clinicians, patients, and the hospital itself contribute to the creation and maintenance of close ties necessary to manage illness over time.

People Involved: 
Status of Research or Work: 
In progress