New York hospitals have been the messengers of almost nothing but bad news since the terrorist attacks toppled the World Trade Center. But Long Island College Hospital has at least one uplifting story about husband-and-wife elevator operators who found each other after 24 hours of believing that the other had died.
LICH is on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge, close enough to the disaster area that neighbors breathed the debris-filled air and found the detritus of lower Manhattan office life on their streets. The hospital treated some 200 patients in the hours after the attacks, including Carmen Griffith, who was at her job ferrying passengers between the 78th floor and the Windows on the World restaurant on Sept. 11 when a commercial jet smashed into the north tower at 8: 48 a.m. Griffith was burned by a plume of fire from the elevator shaft on the 78th floor, carried out by co-workers and taken to LICH.
Meanwhile, Arturo Griffith was in the same tower that day, filling in on the freight elevator for a sick co-worker. After the jet hit, the elevator crashed to the lobby and knocked him unconscious. His left leg was broken, but co-workers carried him to safety, and he underwent surgery at St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan.
Both Carmen and Arturo, who have been married six years and have 12 children, thought the other had died. The day after the attacks, however, Arturo spoke to Carmen's mother, who told him Carmen was badly burned but alive. A couple days later, when the two were well enough, they spoke by telephone.
"I told him I loved him, and I was very happy to hear his voice, and I couldn't wait to see him," Carmen says. Early last week the couple reunited at LICH, where they were sharing a room.
"We've had two different kinds of survivors," says Zipporah Dvash, a hospital spokeswoman. "We've had the kind who are very despondent and very depressed, suffering from a big dose of survivor's guilt . . . But the Griffiths find it therapeutic to discuss what happened to them. They've shared their story."
Now you see 'em, now you don't. Never underestimate the power of even a tiny insect. For example, an infestation of the springtail, a wingless bug only one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch in size, recently shut down the three operating rooms at Down East Community Hospital in Machias, Maine.
Some surgeries at the 36-bed not-for-profit facility serving 20,000 people in Washington County were rescheduled, while some patients had their surgeries at nearby hospitals. "As long as there are any insects in the operating rooms, the hospital is not performing any `open' procedures," or those that involve cutting, hospital officials said in a written statement.
Good thing. Springtails get their name from their ability to catapult three to four feet through the air using a tail-like mechanism under their abdomen.
Hospital officials speculate the critters came from nearby wetlands. They have sought the consultation of a state entomologist, a University of Maine entomologist, the pest-control bureau, private pest-control companies and the state toxicology office.
Down East Community continued to find an occasional springtail in the operating room and in other parts of the building but had hoped to resume surgeries by the end of last week.
Staying abreast of world records. British Columbia Women's Hospital and Health Center, Vancouver, had been planning on Oct. 6 to break the world record for the largest number of women breast-feeding simultaneously in the same place. So the 400-bed hospital was surprised when Outliers informed it recently that the record it hoped to break, set in 1999, had already been broken in August by another group.
The 1999 record involved 388 Australian women simultaneously breast-feeding their babies at the Greater Union Megaplex Marion Cinema in Adelaide. In August, however, as part of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action's "World Breastfeeding Week 2001," sponsoring organizations on Australia's central coast brought together 536 women, occupying two cinema houses, to beat the original record.
Organizers at British Columbia Women's Hospital still hope to break the record this week, although they may have to readjust their plans. Hospital spokeswoman Marisa Nichini says it's too early to say how many women might participate but says the research institute where the event will be held accommodates upward of 500 people.
The hospital is the only facility to provide tertiary maternity care in the province and is a major supporter of breast-feeding education.
Speaking of. . . In exploring solutions to the emerging nursing shortage at a House committee hearing last week, Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) damned all adherence to political correctness and wondered aloud if there were a way to make nursing sound a little less girly so more men might pursue it as a profession. In 2000, less than 6% of nursing positions were held by men.
"We don't want to change us being nurses," countered Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who worked as a nurse for 30 years before being elected to Congress.
Greenwood's response? "When you have a word that simultaneously means `a healthcare provider' and `to breast-feed a baby,' you ought to think about how that impacts on attracting men into the profession."