Outliers decided to take its tongue out of its cheek this week, dedicating this page to the many Sept. 11 remembrance events.
In New York
On a solemn anniversary that left many struggling for appropriate ways to mark it, NYU Downtown Hospital, the closest to ground zero, reached inward and gave itself a much-needed hug.
In the 365 days since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the world has learned of the Herculean effort put forth by the financially beleaguered but spiritually sound hospital in response to the tragedy.
The hospital found itself victimized as badly as its Wall Street neighborhood, which was choked off from the rest of the world without water, electricity and telephone lines. Yet, putting personal safety aside, the staff rushed to care and feed the traumatized residents and office workers who fled there.
President and CEO Leonard Aubrey said the staff has been tested in the past year by the global trauma and also by the ordinary challenges faced by every community hospital: an accreditation survey and a teetering balance sheet. But also since Sept. 11, 2001, 2,405 babies have been born at the hospital, he said. "Our promise to those children must be nothing less than the same commitment we showed the world on Sept. 11."
NYU Downtown held its modest, low-key ceremony in the basement cafeteria, bedecked with a sample of the mountains of cards, letters and pictures sent from schoolchildren and hospitals throughout the country. A poster signed by the staff at 165-bed St. Michael Hospital, Oklahoma City, expressed the sentiments of many: "May God grant you hope and healing," it said.
The ceremony included music, short speeches, reminiscences and reflections from anyone wishing to participate, and a hospitalwide moment of silence shared with the city. "In many ways we were the lucky ones," said Howard Beaton, M.D., the hospital's chief of surgery and emergency services. "We were able to show the world that the `Downtown' in NYU Downtown Hospital's name is more a state of mind."
Elsewhere in New York, hospitals observed the anniversary with similarly quiet, introspective services. St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, the closest trauma center to ground zero, held an outdoor Mass in the morning and an interdenominational service in the afternoon near the makeshift Wall of Remembrance that was constructed in the days after the tragedy.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which has coordinated the citywide hospital response since the moment the first jetliner hit, served in an honor guard at the ceremonies at ground zero. "I've never been in a sadder place in my life," said Kenneth Raske, GNYHA president.
St. Vincent's parent, Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, used the anniversary events to launch a $100 million capital campaign, and found the perfect spokesman to prime the pump: former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
As executive honorary chairman of the $100 million campaign, Giuliani is asking New Yorkers to dig in their pockets for the seven-hospital system. In a fund-raising letter signed by him, he recalled how "on the worst day in New York's history," the depth of the tragedy struck him only after he passed St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan on the way to the scene. A half dozen stretchers and doctors and nurses in hospital gowns were waiting out front, he says. Before the day ended, hospitals in the Saint Vincent system treated more than 1,400 victims.
"I'm asking you to join me and give a generous gift to support SVCMC-because we still need to be ready," Giuliani said in the letter.
The money raised by the campaign will be used for programs, services, capital expansion and endowments throughout the system, but the kickoff is focused on emergency services for both medical and behavioral health at the system's three Level I trauma centers, said Bernadette Kingham, the system's vice president of communications and development. The expanded trauma center in Manhattan will be named the Giuliani Trauma Center, she said.
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson gathered some 2,000 rescue workers and public health professionals to thank them for their response to the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
"These men and women worked hundreds of thousands of hours, responding to the needs of thousands of New York City residents and rescue personnel," Thompson said of volunteer health and mortuary workers and staff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. "They exemplify the compassion and undaunted spirit of our great country."
All the news in Washington was not so uplifting. After last Sept. 11, blood donations rose 40% during September and October of 2001-nearly 600,000 pints above normal donation levels-but about 200,000 pints had to be thrown away because donations so far outstripped need, according to a General Accounting Office report. The GAO assessment of waste is higher than previous estimates. The nation's blood inventory has returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels and remains adequate, the report said.
However, an American Red Cross official testifying at a House subcommittee hearing on the GAO report said the nation's blood inventory is not sufficient to cover normal use and there is a need to be prepared in case of a new terrorist attack. The Red Cross has a number of initiatives under way to ensure the blood supply is adequate for ongoing needs, the official said.
Finally, in anticipation of another major terrorist attack, a report by the Federation of American Scientists said medical and nursing schools should incorporate training for students on responding to mass emergencies, and standardized emergency-response training should be offered in continuing education and refresher courses for practicing clinicians.