April 24, 2014 Volume 3, Issue 6
Staff came together last week to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy. In a display of remembrance and resilience, the week began with a BMC Strong flag raising ceremony hosted by President and CEO Kate Walsh April 14.
Sister Maryanne Ruzzo from Pastoral Care opened the ceremony with a blessing before Walsh took to the stage.
“This anniversary is an emotional time on our campus and across the city, but it’s also a time to be grateful for our strength and resilience as a hospital and a community,” Walsh told the crowd of hundreds gathered on the Moakley Green, including representatives from Boston EMS, the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston University medical campus community.
“As much as all of us are humbled by the outpouring of support, love, hope and healing over the past year for our city and for our hospital, this is also a time to remember that we provide exceptional care to victims of violence and all our patients every day,” Walsh continued. “As we did on Marathon Monday, every day we humanize the most traumatic events. We provide comfort and care with words, with a hug, with a reassuring smile. It’s not always easy work, but it could not be more important to those whose lives we touch.”
Walsh then turned it over to Peter Burke, MD, FACS, Chief, Trauma Services, who thanked EMS for the outstanding job they did on April 15, 2013, and acknowledged the care BMC provides to victims of violence all year.
“We at BMC see victims of violence on a daily basis; lives and families forever altered, and we better than most understand the true human cost of violence to our society,” he said. “While we always strive to provide exceptional care, our response to the Marathon bombing revealed to me a new standard of what exceptional care can mean. Going forward, we must strive for this standard for all of our patients.”
Mary Jo Pedulla, RN, Director of Nursing, Maternal/Child Health Services and Interim Director of Nursing, Critical Care, spoke of the outstanding care nurses gave last year and in the months since.
“Every day our nurses do what they do best: deliver clinical excellence with an expert skill set that is integrated with compassion to all those in their care,” she said. “Our patients’ needs are never too big or too small and our nurses demonstrate that in ways that are nothing short of amazing. On April 15, and in the days and weeks that followed, we tended to the needs of all our patients, including our Marathon patients.”
Marathon patient John Odom then spoke. Last year, Odom and his wife Karen traveled from southern California to see their daughter cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. John was gravely injured when the bombs went off and brought to BMC for care.
“When I arrived here one year ago, my outcome was uncertain,” Odom told the crowd. “They didn’t know if I would live, but God blessed me with BMC, a world-class trauma center, amazing doctors, nurses and hospital staff.”
“When I left here May 23, I was still in a bed and my future was still uncertain; I would live, but I didn’t know if I would ever walk again,” he continued.
“I stand here in front of you today to thank you personally for saving my life and for the miracles you performed last April, today and every day, for all the people who come through those doors,” he said. “Boston Medical Center, my family is and will forever be indebted to you all.”
After the raising of the BMC Strong flag, acclaimed Irish tenor Dr. Ronan Tynan sang “God Bless America.” Attendees then walked the Green to see the America 4 Boston prayer canvases on display. The canvases, signed by more than 50,000 people from all 50 states and 30 nations, conveyed messages of hope, healing and remembrance. Staff also got the chance to sign the BMC Strong canvas.
Other programs during the week included a visit from the North Shore Animal League of America’s puppy van April 15. A steady stream of staff boarded the van to play with puppies and therapy dogs during their visit. BMC also observed a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. that day to mark the time the bombs went off at the finish line. Staff gathered in the Menino and Newton Pavilions to honor the moment.
BMC held a Renewal Fair for staff April 16. More than 500 employees stopped by to rejuvenate by walking a labyrinth, a meditation tool for reflection and spiritual enlightenment; as well as experiencing acupuncture, massage, Reiki and floral arranging. Some just enjoyed spending time with the therapy dogs who participate in BMC’s Healing Paws program.
The week ended with Team BMC Day April 17. Staff gathered on the Talbot Green to show their support for the 107 members of Team BMC who ran the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the hospital. Attendees purchased Team BMC shirts and test drove a brand new Lincoln car.
On April 19, the Boston Seaport Hotel was brimming with a sea of Team BMC Strong shirts, as the 107 team runners came together with their supporters for a traditional pre-Marathon pasta dinner. Filled with determination to take back the finish line after last year’s tragic events, the dinner also featured a VIP cheering squad of Marathon patients who were treated at BMC, local politicians and celebrities, led by actor Kevin Spacey, star of the show “House of Cards” and honorary captain of this year’s Team BMC.
"The events that took place at the Boston Marathon finish line will forever be etched in our memories,” said Congressman Stephen Lynch, in his opening remarks as the speaking program’s emcee. “We will always honor and remember the four victims whose lives were taken too soon and the hundreds of survivors who have proved that ‘Boston Strong’ is not just a slogan, but here it is a way of life."
In her remarks, BMC President and CEO Kate Walsh thanked John Hancock, which provided the team with 75 additional bib numbers, and Santander, which provided financial support and opened its Hopkinton and Arlington Street bank branch locations as a meeting place for Team BMC runners.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, decked out in the official blue and orange Marathon track jacket, also took the stage to share his appreciation of Team BMC and Boston Medical Center.
“The Marathon has always been a celebration of our city’s best qualities, but this year it is a bit more special. We’re celebrating how those qualities carry us through very difficult times,” said Walsh. “And that’s what’s amazing to me about the Boston Medical Center Marathon Team and what you’re all about. You’re running for each other, you’re running for Boston and you are running to support the amazing work being done at BMC every single day.”
Congressman Joseph Kennedy expressed his admiration for BMC’s mission and his personal connection to the hospital through his wife Lauren, a former employee, and member of Team BMC.
JP Craven was one of the many patients BMC cared for after the Marathon last year. He was injured at the finish line while cheering on his father. This year, not only did he run the Marathon, but his team raised more than $160,000 for Team BMC.
“Last year, after the first responders did such a tremendous job with everything that was thrown at them on April 15, someone made the decision to take me to BMC, a decision for which I am eternally thankful,” Craven said. “The care I received from everyone was nothing short of the best and came coupled with the supreme will to heal me beyond just my physical ailments. The doctors, the nurses, the guy who wheeled me down the hall and made me laugh did more for me than I could ever have imagined.”
After another Marathon patient, Adrienne Haslet-Davis, echoed Craven’s sentiments and thanked her caregivers, she welcomed Kevin Spacey to the stage to share his excitement in being a part of Team BMC.
“In the aftermath of the tragic events that took place last year, I found myself having to come to Boston to do what I could to lend support to a city that had proved to be, quite simply, remarkable in the days that followed the shocking events. And I was privileged to come here and meet so many people who inspired me and who I believe moved our entire country because of the spirit you showed and shared with everyone,” Spacey told the crowd. “That spirit is here with all of you tonight, who committed yourselves to caring and helping to heal the patients who poured through your doors and into your lives in unimaginable need.”
Spacey then slipped into his character, politician Frank Underwood from "House of Cards," concluding his remarks by saying, "I'm so very inspired," in Underwood's signature heavy Southern drawl, much to the excitement of the crowd.
Spacey then called up the Team BMC fundraising website, where donations were being updated in real time as they poured in. The crowd erupted in cheers when the leaderboard showed that Team BMC surpassed the one million dollar mark during the course of the evening.
The evening concluded with an exciting performance from Lil Phunk, the official junior dance team of the Boston Celtics. The group of 35 young girls and boys, ages 6-13, took to the dance floor to a mash-up of Disney songs set to hip-hop beats that pumped up the crowd.
For the last block of the Boston Marathon leading into Copley Square, spectators shout a little bit louder and the runners use that last bit of energy they didn’t know they had to power through. Across the blue and yellow finish line, there is an entirely different scene. The runners walk a few blocks to cool down as the adrenaline starts to wear off and the sweat dries to salt on their faces. Silver blankets cover their bodies as they reunite with their families, exhausted and relieved, while medical volunteers stand guard.
For BMC doctors and nurses returning to the medical tents along St. James Avenue, this year was a chance to create a new Marathon memory.
Elizabeth Mitchell, MD, Emergency Medicine, volunteered at the Marathon for the first time in 2013. She was positioned at medical tent A, located just past the finish line, when the bombs exploded and she rushed to the scene just a few minutes later.
“It was surreal, to be honest. It was not like anything I had ever seen before,” she said. “At the time, it was hard to imagine that what was happening was happening, but everyone pulled together.”
Positioned in the same tent this year, Mitchell said she sees the Marathon as a chance to finally move past what happened last year and have new experiences associated with it.
“Initially there was a lot of talk about last year during our volunteer orientation, but then everyone began to focus on what they are here to do today,” she said, just before running off to greet the elite runners who had just completed the race midday Monday.
About two blocks away, medical tent B stretched the length of one and a half football fields--nearly double the size of last year’s. Divided into pods, each with 12 cots, two nurses, two physicians, and two athletic trainers or physical therapists, the medical tents run like a well-oiled machine. Together these teams, comprising 1,900 medical volunteers, spent the day tending to runners who were dizzy, sore, overheated and cramped--as normal as a Marathon day could be.
While people were out in good spirits Monday, there was a different attitude, a stronger defiance, in the community.
“You realize you need to live each day as if it were your last. In a moment, it could be changed forever,” said Kathleen McAndrews, RN, who was on duty in BMC’s ED last year and treated many Marathon patients.
Stationed at tent B this year and waiting for runners to arrive, she continued, “A lot of the victims are still mentally and physically trying to figure it out every day. Everything changed for them. It changed for all of us.”
Like McAndrews, Michelle McMurray, RN, was working in the BMC ED last year. This year she was assigned to tent B with McAndrews and other BMC ED nurses Mike Spiro and Carole Harris.
“It’s just nice to be out here, and talk to the runners and ask them what makes them run those 26.2 miles,” McMurray said. “It’s just a lot of great people. We’re emergency room nurses--we love the adrenaline rush.”
Around 12:30 p.m., Doug Comeau, DO, a sports and family medicine physician at BMC who has volunteered at the Marathon since 2004, said last year at this time, he had just been talking with people about how they had the lowest number of runners ever in the medical tents.
“It was a beautiful, sunny day with blue skies -- just like today. Then we heard a thunder clap and lost communication with the first tent,” he said.
Many things were the same this year. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and many of the same volunteers were back. However, a record number of people tried to volunteer, and nearly 1,500 medical volunteers were turned away.
“You never want to let terrorism run your life,” Comeau said as he waited outside of tent B for the next wave of runners to come through. “You never want to give up something that you’ve been doing.”
As a sports medicine practitioner, Comeau said he saw this as his day to give back to the city and could not imagine being anywhere else.
“The anniversary was sad--the tragedy still happened,” he said. “But we’re never going to give up the finish line.”
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After a long, cold winter, spring is finally here! Think warm thoughts with this recipe from the Demonstration Kitchen’s Tracey Burg.
This recipe doubles for breakfast or for dinner (or both!) and is a great way to use up extra veggies you may have on hand. Both colorful and satisfying, it is easy to put together on a week night and a great way to pack nutrients into your day.
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Do you have a recipe that you would like to share with the BMC community? Send it to email@example.com and we’ll feature it in a future issue of the BMC Brief!
Patients share their BMC experience
I am writing to you today to give many, many thanks to the people in Hematology who do the work of helping ill people every day. I have amyloidosis and am in remission.
Drs. Mark Sloan, Anthony Sheldon, Dorothy Wisdom and Jane Makson, the nurses and the rest of the staff in this department, including the person who delivers lunch, are unbelievable. I could not have continued my treatment without their compassion and expertise. Every day is a blessing with this staff.
These wonderful people extend themselves above and beyond, and should be commended.
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James Feldman, MD, Receives Top Honor from Massachusetts Medical Society
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Judith Linden, MD, and Melody Eckardt, MD, Honored as Community Clinicians of the Year
Jeffrey Schneider, MD, Recognized with Distinguished Educator Award