Nesta ROvina



A Memoir

A woman at the front lines of the
nation’s health-care crisis

As a home health therapist, Nesta Rovina has seen and heard it all: a stroke victim who learned to roll off her bed at night to avoid getting caught in the crossfire of rival gangs and drug dealers; a man who lived off grass and bugs for a week while fleeing his native Laos; a sixteen-year-old gunshot victim who was left for dead by a man targeting prostitutes; a heroin addict who—when her left hand was amputated after becoming infected from frequent injections—began “popping” on her right hand. 

While some of Rovina’s patients lived in gated communities, most of them were poor and depended on state- funded health-care services that professionals like Rovina provided. Many of them had debilitating illnesses or were drug addicts or geriatric patients without caregivers to help them with their day-to-day needs. Rovina’s job was to help make their homes livable despite their physical limitations and reduce the risk of injuries at home. This became increasingly difficult to do as cuts to health care handicapped what the state agency could provide until, eventually, she herself was forced to leave her job.

Tree Barking provides both a disturbingly familiar account of America’s bruised and battered health-care system and snapshots of underrepresented Americans. Its power lies in Rovina’s ability to depict the diversity of human experience. As a home health therapist she eased the pains of the ill and infirm; as a writer she gives voice to their struggles and hopes. Beautifully written and honestly told, Tree Barking is a testament to the triumph of compassion over poverty and bureaucracy.


Tree Barking

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