Saving the Heart of the Crescent City

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Jeanne Dumestre is one of the founders of Tipitina's, the New Orleans club that remains one of the city's musical landmarks. Since 1985, Dumestre has worked as a nurse in the city, helping people who have HIV/AIDS — but don't have insurance.

The move from a club that has hosted shows by the Neville Brothers and the Meters — shows that, in the early days, often included an offer of free bananas — to a life of nursing came naturally to Demestre. It happened in the mid-80s, when she witnessed the effects of AIDS in her city, and the passion of those trying to help.

Working out of a clinic for mothers and children at the Louisiana State University Health Science Center, Dumestre has helped thousands of patients in the clinic's HIV Outpatient Program.

In 2005, Dumestre won an HIV Leadership Award for her commitment. She occupies a rare place in New Orleans music history — and her work with the region's patients is changing lives. And even as she contemplates retirement, Dumestre plans to put in a few days each week at the clinic.

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