Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm
Dr. Ian Gilson, a clinical physician, is one of the top AIDS doctors in the Milwaukee area.
Gilson says he learned a valuable listen early on in his practice. One of his first AIDS patients was dying from pneumonia. The patient had previously made it clear that he didn’t want anything done to resuscitate him. He wanted Gilson to let him die.
“With his last short breath, he whispered, ‘Save me!’” Gilson recalls. “We put him on a ventilator, gave him antibiotics, and he lived several more months. The lesson learned there is to listen to patients. You have to listen.”
When HIV first emerged in the United States in 1981, it was thought that any physician could and should treat it. However, as more was understood about the virus and AIDS, it became a more specialized field. Gilson’s practice increasingly incorporated work with HIV.
“In 1985, I saw a few of the first AIDS cases in Wisconsin and gradually accumulated more because it interested me,” Gilson says. “Ultimately, because of my interest and expertise acquired through experience and continuing education, I became an AIDS specialist, and I have also continued to practice primary care internal medicine.”
Twelve years ago, Gilson left his practice to join Aurora Medical Group. Today, he provides both primary and specialized care to his HIV patients, and he also provides primary care to many general medical patients.
Gilson works with Mary Busalacchi, a nurse, and Karen Ivantic-Doucette, a nurse practitioner who until recently served as an HIV/AIDS advisor. Both are members of Gilson’s “A-team”.
Busalacchi and Ivantic Doucette were long time friends of Gilson’s, whom he first met when they were home care nurses for his first AIDS patients in the 1980s.
Ivantic-Doucette was running a nurse training program at Marquette University for East Africa in 2004. Ivantic-Doucette, Gilson, Marty Berner (a nurse midwife at Marquette) and some Marquette students traveled to Kenya to do AIDS work.
“We gave all-day seminars in Mombasa and Nairobi, did clinical mentoring and observation at clinics in Nairobi and Voi, attended a support group in Voi, and did walk arounds, visiting homes in Mombasa and Nairobi slums with neighborhood workers and nurses,” Gilson says.
The Milwaukee group brought drug samples, reference texts, laptops and scrub suits to the clinics. The group shared state-of-the-art Western health care and got to know the people there.
After returning, Gilson sent computers to two of the clinical officers he visited.
Gilson has kept in touch with the Kenyans. He and Ivantic-Doucette hope to return to Kenya next spring to continue their commitment to help train health care workers there.
“I want to build on what we have done,” Gilson says. “There are always many new things to teach and learn. Now there is much more testing and retroviral therapy going on there, which is very exciting to be involved in.”