events of September 11, covered in this issue of Healthstate, have prompted
many people to take pen in hand to voice their feelings. Here are two such
offerings: an essay written on September 14 by Michael Alfano, DMD, PhD,
NJDS 71, now Dean of NYU College of Dentistry, and a poem from David
M. Gibson, EdD, Dean of UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions.
TOO FEW SIRENS
My office is on First Avenue in Manhattan, right in the middle of "hospital row." Usually, the ambulances I hear are an annoyance, but not today. Because each siren means that maybe another survivor from the carnage of the past week has been found. Sadly, there have been too few sirens.
I have the honor to be dean of what is probably the most diverse dental school on earth, the dental school that is the closest to the twin towers, and the dental school that, like so many others, demonstrated great character in this time of crisis. This honor also brings responsibility. I write today out of a sense of duty to my colleagues in dentistry, to thank all of you in our profession who expressed such concern and generous offers to help, and to call you to action.
Our dental clinics remained open throughout the crisis because, like you, we take care of people. Our students, traumatized by watching the horror unfold through our windows, volunteered anywhere they could. They went to triage centers near ground zero, to Bellevue Hospital across the street, and to the Medical Examiners office two blocks away where they handed out water and facemasks to people who were looking for loved ones. We also helped the MEs office, overwhelmed by the scope of the tragedy, as our faculty members, trained in forensics, were called to action; and by donating a large quantity of supplies and equipment, including half of the X-ray processors in our building. Indeed, our faculty and staff literally built a temporary darkroom to expedite the processing of the grim information that was so desperately needed by grieving relatives. Within hours we had also set up counseling services for the members in our learning community who needed help. We did much more, but nothing more than you would have done.
On Thursday, we resumed classes and engaged in business, certainly not business as usual, but business nonetheless. To do less would mean that terrorism wins. We also worked to ensure that our strong legacy of multiculturalism was sustained, not destroyed, as the terrorists would have liked. Then on Friday, in a sadly ironic twist of fate, we held an abbreviated version of a Continuing Education Course that we had scheduled months ago called, "A Health Professionals Response to the Terrorist Threat." This program sprang from a recommendation that our College made to our parent university earlier this year to establish an "Institute on Catastrophic Events." Such an institute would catalyze public debate on scores of relevant topics from bioterrorism, to collapsed water tunnels, to evacuation plans that have previously received little public vetting.
Our resolve that health professionals, including dental professionals, have an important role in helping to manage the sequelae of catastrophic events, not just explosions, but earthquakes, anthrax and the like, has been strengthened. Therefore, I offer this call to action. We must educate our colleagues about what they can do to protect their communities, their patients and their own families. There are dozens of questions to explore and supply cabinets to be stocked. As members of one of societys most highly educated professions, we must do more than sit back and wait for the next time. As a child of the cold war, I know that sirens mean warning; when it comes to terrorism in America, there have been too few sirens.
Michael C. Alfano, DMD, PhD
Originally published in the October 1 ADA News, American Dental Association. Reprinted by permission of ADA Publishing Division, ADA Business Enterprises, Inc.
TRIBUTE TO UMDNJ LIBRARIAN EMERITUS
After a most tragic time,
I am writing to share sorrow and strength to continue on with our normal days of living and working. Prior to the WTC attack, I was planning to contact you and thank you again for the outstanding Healthstate article. At the Labor Day Weekend Festival in West Virginia, I received some lovely recognition awards. One which I will cherish most is a letter from First Lady Laura Bush, congratulating me for my contributions in library services at UMDNJ.
I wanted to share the letter with you, since the information supplied by the Festival Office to the White House was the Healthstate article.
Victor A. Basile
Dear Mr. Basile,
What a pleasure to add my congratulations to all the others on the day you are recognized as the Outstanding West Virginia Italian-American of 2001! I am especially delighted to salute a fellow librarian.
Clarksburg is justifiably proud of a native son, whose love of books and the buildings that house them began in the Clarksburg Public Library. Clarksburg like the rest of the country is enriched by a mix of people from different national, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds and by the contributions they make to their communities and to the nation.
Because of your contributions as Director of Libraries/University Librarian at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, valuable information that might otherwise be obscured is made readily accessible. The reach of the innovations in the delivery of information that you effected extends beyond the walls of the University, its faculty and students to the patients they will treat.
Congratulations on your accomplishments, and may this new phase of your life bring you much enjoyment and happiness!
WRITTEN ON THE FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI (October 4, 2001)
Shattered glass and wounded hearts
A furrowed field in Pennsylvania
A moment of power, strength raped
Voices singing strains of amber grain
We are told we are at war, my God at War!
Requiescent in pace: may they rest in peace
David M. Gibson, EdD, Dean