Most everyone remembers where they were on that day. I was chief medical officer at Boston Medical Center and got a call from our chief of trauma surgery, a former military surgeon, who said, “What are we going to do?” Not knowing what had happened, I responded, “What are you talking about?” and he informed me that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. We immediately shut down our operating schedule and got ready for the potential of treating casualties. My associate chief medical officer was a Colonel in the United States Army Medical Reserve and was deployed within minutes after the attack. Within 18 hours he was in a medical tent blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood. Both of those great surgeons with extensive training stood ready but, as we know now, sadly there were very few patients in need of medical treatment.
Although it was before my time at GBMC, I understand that our hospital, as well as dozens of others along the East Coast, also began preparing to treat the injured. Staff scrambled to get ready “just in case,” but we were never called upon to care for any patients.
However, as a result of what happened that fateful day, the federal government implemented several major changes to healthcare, specifically in the area of emergency management and crisis preparedness. It is because of this that GBMC has a state-of-the-art Hospital Command Center, is home to a regional Alternative Care Site, and has a cache of supplies ready for use in an emergency. Most recently, our emergency preparedness efforts were tested by Hurricane Irene, and while we did quite well, we encountered some challenges and we have some changes to make.
"Our Team Comes Together When Hurricane Irene Strikes"
Like most Americans I was saddened by all of the people who lost loved ones and all of the phenomenal stories of those who gave of themselves for others in the days and months after 9/11 and who continue to do so.
One story I’ll never forget is that of Dr. Peter Moyer, who was medical director for Boston’s public safety agencies (police, fire, and EMS) and was chief of emergency medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. Trained in casualty bereavement, Peter self-deployed to Logan Airport, where many family members of people on board American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 went for information. Within two hours of working to console others, Peter learned that his stepson, a New York City Fire Department (FDNY) firefighter on Engine 5, died when the second tower collapsed.
This was then, and remains today, a cause for reflection. How do you make spiritual sense of when someone doing something so selfless and valiant suffers such a significant tragedy in their own world? Remember we are healthcare providers and things don’t always go well in healthcare.
|The Wall of Hope and Remembrance at Saint Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan.|
Aside from the forever-changed footprint of the World Trade Center complex, a significantly visible change for the community is that St. Vincent’s, which served the Greenwich Village neighborhood for 160 years and treated cholera victims and survivors of the Titanic disaster, is no more, having closed in April 2010. St. Vincent’s staff stood tall during the 9/11 response and now they don’t even exist anymore. Why? Because they were unable to adapt to meet the needs of the community in an ever-changing healthcare world.
Would you like to share your experience from September 11th, or how changes in the world, particularly in healthcare, have impacted you? If so, please comment below.
On a much happier note, I was excited to be a guest at the recent Notre Dame of Maryland University celebration. Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame as Notre Dame of Maryland Collegiate Institute in 1873, more than two decades later in 1895 they were re-established as the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and have continued as a thriving undergraduate and graduate campus just a few miles away from GBMC on North Charles Street in Baltimore City. This year they changed their name to the Notre Dame of Maryland University to better represent the fullness and richness of what they do. Congratulations to everyone affiliated with Notre Dame of Maryland University, including GBMC HealthCare board member P.J. Mitchell, a Notre Dame alumna who chairs their board of trustees, and Dr. Mary Patricia Seurkamp, Ph.D, who has served as president of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland since 1997 and is the first layperson to lead the school.
A hallmark of a Notre Dame of Maryland education is service, whether students are first-year undergraduate or Ph.D. candidates, which should be commended. Two years ago, their School of Pharmacy welcomed its first class of students, and we look forward to these graduates joining us in the healthcare profession. Hopefully there are opportunities in the future for our two campuses to collaborate on projects of benefit to the greater community.
Finally, we’ve had good turnout for the Town Hall meetings held so far, with many excellent questions being asked by staff.
I encourage all GBMC employees who haven’t yet joined us to attend one of our Town Hall meetings, which are an opportunity for direct communication between employees and senior management. If you would like to submit a question about the hospital/organization prior to the meeting, please submit it via GroupWise to Ann Brecht-Castle or drop your written question off to the reception area in Human Resources. These meetings provide an opportunity to ask questions, raise issues, share information and clarify key objectives. Raffles will be conducted at each meeting, and lucky employees can win gift certificates! The value of these meetings is directly related to participation by staff members so we look forward to seeing everyone there.
Remaining Town Hall meetings:
DATE TIME LOCATION
September 22 9:00 a.m. Owings Mills
October 7 7:00 a.m. Back of Dining Room
October 14 8:30 a.m. Gilchrist - Hunt Valley
For more information about the Town Hall meetings, check here on the InfoWeb: Town Hall Meetings - Infoweb