America's Blood Centers, a network of independent collectors of half the nation's blood supply, reported that the number of people who lined up to give blood and the number of units collected in the wake of the terrorist attacks were among the highest ever. Based on the 89% of its members that responded to a survey from Tuesday, Sept. 11, through Friday, Sept. 14, a total of 251,370 units of blood were collected, according to the organization. Normal collections for the four-day period would be about 91,000 units. A total of 4,620 units of blood were shipped to New York, New Jersey and Washington. The needs of the cities hardest hit by the terrorist attacks were met, but there is still a need to maintain a level of preparedness over the coming months, officials said, and they are encouraging donors to call blood centers to make appointments. Some blood will be frozen, but most will be transfused in the short term. "The best place to store blood is in the donor," said Jim MacPherson, chief executive officer of America's Blood Centers.
Ken Rutledge, president of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, arrived in California on Sept. 17 for his father's memorial service after being stranded in Washington since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast. Rutledge had planned to visit his hospitalized father before his death but was unable to because of airport closures. Rutledge's extended absence caused some problems on the work front, as the Portland-based association was in the process of preparing for its annual board meeting. Rutledge, however, managed to work with the association via the telephone and the Internet. Several meetings scheduled for Rutledge had to be canceled.
The National Medical Disaster System has delivered 13 veterinarians to the disaster site at the World Trade Center to care for the 300 rescue dogs that are helping in the effort to find survivors. HHS officials said the canine heroes are suffering from the same injuries as their human counterparts: fatigue, cuts, smoke and dust inhalation, and eye irritation. The Veterinary Medical Assistance Team dispatched to New York is part of the National Disaster Medical System led by HHS. The VMAT is working 12-hour shifts around the clock in a mobile trailer about three blocks from ground zero. The site includes X-ray and anesthesia facilities. VMAT personnel are also at ground zero providing emergency care when needed.
Perhaps no one at any New York hospital has been challenged as much as Michael Rawlings, director of engineering for NYU Downtown Hospital, but it's a challenge that he considers a blessing. Just blocks from the collapsed World Trade Center, NYU Downtown has struggled to resume normal business with the power supply cut off, telecommunications in shambles and its neighborhood cut off from vehicular traffic. In the first hours after the attack, Rawlings worked furiously to secure the hospital from the dust and debris that poured into the neighborhood along with panicked office workers. It could have been much worse personally. A year ago Rawlings was offered a position as chief of engineering at the World Trade Center. He turned down the offer for a number of reasons, he says, including the chance to help build a new emergency department at NYU Downtown. He also resisted leaving his NYU Downtown family, he says. "I work with great people here," Rawlings says. "My wife keeps saying, `I'm so glad you didn't take the job.' "
The grounding of the nation's airplanes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks didn't stop a retired military officer with 43 years of service from receiving a heart transplant. Officials at 525-bed BryanLGH Medical Center, Lincoln, Neb., won a special clearance for a two-hour round-trip flight to an undisclosed location on Sept. 12 to get the heart for James Rueger, 63, a retired U.S. Army major general. The surgery, the 118th heart transplant at Bryan, took place that afternoon. Driving the organ was an option, but the distance involved made that risky, Bryan spokesman Edgar Bumanis said. Rueger was listed in good condition late last week.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services waived one of Medicare's rules for skilled-nursing facilities in the New York and Washington areas to help the facilities relieve overburdened hospitals. In a memo to Medicare contractors, the CMS said it is temporarily dropping the requirement that beneficiaries stay at least three days in an acute-care hospital prior to being transferred to skilled nursing because hospitals in the disaster areas were discharging some patients to nursing homes to clear space. The memo did not specify how long the waiver would last, other than "for the duration of the disaster."
One healthcare entrepreneur has decided that the trappings of his success might be better used elsewhere. David Winn, M.D., chief executive officer of e-MDs, a Cedar Park, Texas-based company that produces software for physicians' offices, is auctioning off his new Mercedes sedan, 33-foot powerboat and fully loaded two-seater airplane with proceeds going to a fund to help Sept. 11 disaster victims' families. "Do I really need a luxury car, fast boat or plane? No, I do not. In the big picture, such material things mean little," Winn said.