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Pittsburgh doctor and author releases new novel about the heartbreaking opioid epidemic in Southwestern PA

'The Stairs On Billy Buck Hill' uses the South Side neighborhood as major setting


Last updated 12/6/2022 at 12:03pm

Dr. Steven L. Orebaugh, a doctor of anesthesiology at UPMC, has released "The Stairs on Billy Buck Hill," his second novel, through Milford House. "The Stairs on Billy Buck Hill," is a Pittsburgh-based medical literary novel detailing a dedicated anesthesiologist's descent into opioid addiction in the South Side neighborhood.

"This is an important story, given the current environment," says Dr. Orebaugh. "Although the opioid epidemic was overshadowed by the COVID pandemic, you only need to look at the billboards about fentanyl and opioid recovery around Pittsburgh to see that opioid addiction is still a major issue throughout the United States. And, although it's not as well publicized or discussed, opioid does, unfortunately, occasionally grip anesthesiologists-the very doctors responsible for prescribing them."

"The Stairs on Billy Buck Hill," also takes a close, intimate look at the South Side neighborhood, with its hard-working, industrial past and its current status as a hotspot for local nightlife-and the myriad drug and alcohol afflictions that can plague East Carson Street on weekend nights. In fact, the novel's main character, Dr. Kurt McCain, finds himself torn between the city's hidden drug world and his status as a respected physician who lives a quiet life near the St. Paul of the Cross Monastery in the South Side Slopes.

"I chose Pittsburgh, and South Side specifically, as a major setting for "The Stairs on Billy Buck Hill," because it's one I know so well," Dr. Orebaugh says. "After traveling these streets every day for years, I've developed an intense fondness for everything the neighborhood offers, both positive and negative. I don't mean to paint the neighborhood in a negative light," Dr. Orebaugh clarifies. "Instead, I hope to remind people that Pittsburgh-and the rest of the country overall-is still grappling with an opioid epidemic we're still trying to get under control."

"The Stairs on Billy Buck Hill," is Dr. Orebaugh's second literary novel, following 2015's "A Night In the Life" (Pocol Press), which chronicled a disenchanted emergency room physician's busy night in the hospital. A professor of anesthesiology at UPMC Southside Anesthesia, Dr. Orebaugh is also the author of "Atlas of Airway Management: Techniques and Tools" (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006) and "Understanding Anesthesia: What You Need to Know About Sedation & Pain Control" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). His professional research has appeared more than 70 times in medical literature, including peer-reviewed articles, textbook chapters, and review articles.


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