At the Helm of Harlem's North General Hospital
BY PETER WORTSMAN
|Samuel Daniel'78, president and CEO of North General Hospital
AS A CHILD GROWING UP ON ANTIGUA, THE TINY ISLAND NATION in the Caribbean, Samuel Daniel'78 once pleaded with a visiting aunt who had emigrated to the United States: "Put me in your suitcase and take me to America!" He managed to make it here on his own. Half a lifetime later, Dr. Daniel, the president and CEO of North General Hospital, Harlem's only private, nonprofit, community hospital, is not taking his success sitting down. A diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine in medicine and gastroenterology, cited in New York Magazine's 2000 listing as one of "The Best Doctors in New York," he has hitched his hopes and dreams and the fierce determination that got him where he is to the future of North General.
Having brought clinical rigor and academic excellence to the financially strapped community teaching hospital, "our next goal," he said at a recent interview, "is to demonstrate fiscal viability" a formidable challenge for an institution with no endowment and a patient base largely comprising the uninsured or marginally insured. But Dr. Daniel is profoundly committed to his mission and a life replete with bumps and bruises has merely honed his resolve. "I believe deep down that what I'm doing here at North General is giving back to the City of New York that has allowed me to get a fine education and," Dr. Daniel adds, weighing his words, "to reach far beyond what I what others! thought my potential was."
"Send Me More!"
Coming to the United States at age 18, he attended Queens College, first majoring in biology and later registering for the pre-med program. "Don't try to tackle inorganic chemistry and the regular chemistry classes for majors, it'd be too difficult for you," the chairman of the chemistry department advised him. "I thanked him for his advice and then I went right out and registered," Dr. Daniel recalls. "He was right, it was difficult. But by the time I finished my training he was one of my biggest fans." The same chairman subsequently wrote him a glowing recommendation to medical school and Columbia took notice.
Arriving at P&S, he initially felt a bit overwhelmed by the sheer weight of a tradition to which people of color had limited access. "Well, you fought to get here," he remembers telling himself, "but do you really belong?" Finding friends quickly was going to be important.
That day he made a lifelong friend among his new classmates, Hunson Soong'78, himself an immigrant. "I have a picture stashed away somewhere in which Hunson and I are standing together on the steps leading up to the P&S building. I remember that picture clearly, because the look on my face said, ‘Yes, Samuel, you belong!'"
And when he subsequently passed his first test in pathology with flying colors, he took a deep breath. "I was now among the guys from MIT, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard, and I said of the challenges ahead: ‘Go ahead, send me more!'" But there was to be another far more daunting test to come, a test not just of mind, but of mettle, in which friends would play a vitally supportive role.
In his second year of medical school, Dr. Daniel fell ill and was hospitalized with a painful and life-threatening thrombophlebitis and pulmonary embolism. Determined not to lose a year in his education, he managed to persuade a somewhat skeptical dean of students, Dr. Anne Peterson, to permit him to keep up with class work through taped lectures and to pass proctored exams administered while he was confined to bed. Another close friend, Reginald Manning'78, and other friends in BALSO, the Black and Latino Student Organization, recorded lectures and faithfully relayed the tapes to his bedside. "I would lie there, writhing in pain, listening to the tape," he recalls, pausing a moment as if feeling the pain again and sounding its depths. "Well, I passed that microbiology exam, and it was a tough one, let me tell you. Embryology, passed, got honors in that," he declares, looking back with hard-earned pride. "Those were difficult times, but my friends from BALSO and the dean of students office came through for me and I'll never forget it."
Did his experience as a bedridden patient with serious illness make him a better doctor?
"No doubt about it," he acknowledges, tapping the Outstanding Customer Service Award pin on his white coat, the ultimate vote of confidence conferred three years in a row by his patients at North General for his wise and caring bedside manner.
From St. Luke's-Roosevelt to Central Park South
|Samuel J. Daniel'78 with New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at World AIDS Day Breakfast, Gracie Mansion, 2002
Opting for internal medicine "I'm good at retaining lots of information and putting the puzzle pieces together" Dr. Daniel pursued his postgraduate internship and medical residency as well as a much sought after fellowship in gastroenterology the first person of color to do so at the Columbia affiliate, Roosevelt Hospital. He subsequently joined the staff there as assistant attending in 1983. That same year he was appointed to the clinical faculty at P&S.
While at Roosevelt, he opened a successful solo gastroenterology practice on Central Park South, undaunted by the discouraging counsel of a colleague: "Sam, I think it'd be a losing proposition. You need to go up to Harlem." Dr. Daniel thrived on Central Park South, earning the respect of his peers at Roosevelt as well as their referrals. "Later, when I moved my practice up to Harlem," he says, "I did so on my own accord." In Harlem, he also joined the consultation staff of the Greater Harlem Nursing Home. Overall patient satisfaction led to his listing in 2000 by New York Magazine as one of the "Best Doctors in New York" and by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the nation's best minority physicians.
The erstwhile would-be suitcase stowaway had definitely arrived. Still, he was troubled by a growing sense of dissatisfaction. "I frankly felt that, at Roosevelt, I was respected but somewhat taken for granted. I wanted to work in and for an institution that truly valued my contribution and where I could make a real difference."
The Call to North General
In 1992, he was invited to help develop a gastroenterology service at North General Hospital. Founded in 1979 by the late Eugene McCabe, a Harlem community leader, and philanthropist Randolph Guggenheimer, the hospital was committed from the start not only to expanding the health care delivery system, but also to the promotion of health and health-related education and to the economic development of the east and central Harlem communities. The challenge was just what the doctor ordered.
To Dr. Daniel's profound satisfaction, he found at North General a competent and committed group of medical residents, many from Africa, India, Haiti, and elsewhere, immigrants like himself, keenly appreciative of his teaching skills. In 1993, he was promoted to associate director of medicine and, in 1996, to chief of medicine and program director. In that capacity, he dug in and thoroughly revamped the house staff training program from top to bottom. Previously the hospital recorded an abysmal 25 percent passing rate of internal medicine boards. "The first thing I told the residents," he says, "was that you're not really a doctor until you're board-certified. That was an idea instilled in me at P&S in which I firmly believe."
The key, he realized, was to foster critical thinking. To this end, he developed a course in clinical research. "You cannot finish your training," he instructed the residents, "until you complete a research project, have written it up and presented it to the faculty and had it proven worthy of publication in a peer-review journal." Within a few years the results were truly astonishing. "For four years in a row now, we've had a 100 percent pass rate of the medical boards," he says, "that compares to the national average of 70 percent." The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations gave the institution a 93 percent rating on its 2000 survey and has consistently granted accreditation with commendation ever since. Papers produced at North General are now accepted in the Journal of the American College of Physicians, Journal of Cardiology, and other prestigious journals. Members of the house staff have gone on to pursue plum fellowships at Brigham Hospital, Mount Sinai, and elsewhere. "So you see," he says, the hint of happiness blossoming into a full-fledged smile, "this little hospital in Harlem has been doing a lot of good work."
Then in 2001, upon the passing of hospital founder Eugene McCabe and the resignation of president Harold Freeman, Dr. Daniel was invited to take over the reins as president and CEO. "It was a bittersweet moment for me," he says. "Bitter in that we had lost a great leader, Gene McCabe, a very inspiring man. Sweet in that now I was given the opportunity to carry out his mission. North General is an essential institution for the community we serve. We do things that other hospitals are not doing."
A Private Community Hospital with an Educational Commitment
North General, the only not-for-profit, private teaching hospital in central Harlem and Harlem's largest employer, is a 200-bed acute care facility that provides quality care to an underserved patient population, 78 percent of which is either on Medicaid or uninsured. Cognizant of its location on the edge of East Harlem, a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood, Dr. Daniel appointed Spanish speakers in key positions, pushing the hospital to become truly bilingual.
But having addressed essential clinical, educational, and cultural issues, the new president and CEO had to turn his attention to pressing fiscal concerns.
Taking the Hospital's Debt by the Horns
"When I took the job," Dr. Daniel recalls, "the hospital had lost $15 million in one year on revenues of just under $100 million. That's significant in any field. And I realized that one of my biggest problems was paying the debt on the hospital's mortgage. If I was going to have any impact in moving the hospital forward I would have to refinance the debt."
There was only one problem. A state law prescribed that not-for-profit safety-net hospitals could not refinance their debt. A legal catch-22? Not so to Dr. Daniel. "My job was now to convince stage legislators to change that law." Appealing to and garnering the support of U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, leaders in Albany, members of SCIU Union 1199, as well as local community leaders, Dr. Daniel recalls, "we were ultimately successful." By refinancing the hospital's debt, Dr. Daniel was consequently able to reinvest the principle in paying vendors and creating new programs simultaneously geared to address specific community health needs and to generate revenue.
A Hepatitis C Center of Excellence and Other Initiatives
"I felt strongly that this hospital had to become an urban health care center of excellence," Dr. Daniel said, "that we should know the diseases endemic to our community and be one of the national leaders in trying to improve on the mortality rate of people suffering these diseases. So we got involved in clinical trials."
Realizing that Pegasus and Copeg, the standard medications for the treatment of hepatitis C, did not appear to work well in the African-American population, Dr. Daniel suspected a repetition of the failures of the early HIV studies using AZT, studies that failed to enroll large numbers of blacks. "If you don't have us in the early trials," he argues, "how do you hope to treat our population?" Thanks to Dr. Daniel's visionary leadership, North General is now engaged in a major comparative clinical study of medications for hepatitis C, supported by Hoffmann LaRoche Pharmaceuticals, in which "African-Americans go head to head with Caucasians to establish differences in their response to treatment."
Through another important health care initiative, the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, North General Hospital teamed up with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation to create a center for comprehensive cancer education, screening, and treatment. The modern state-of-the-art facility on 124th Street is playing an aggressive role in bringing good medicine to the people who need it most.
Medical Housecalls, another successful program pioneered at North General, funded by both the Star Foundation and the Leslie Samuels Foundation, sends a health care team to the homes of the frail and elderly in the neighborhood. Dr. Daniel is convinced that greater access to care is the key to promoting community health. "That's why North General needs to exist. We are not a wealthy institution, we are not rich in resources, but we have managed to partner with major academic centers and concerned philanthropists to bring the technical skills, the clinical knowledge, and the funding to our hospital to take care of our people."
North General has long had an academic affiliation with Mount Sinai and is in the process of expanding that relationship into the clinical arena.
Getting Out the Message
Like the president and CEO of other private teaching hospitals, Dr. Daniel is a tireless spokesman busy getting out the message. "I relish the role of talking about this institution, because we are a well-kept secret. I can't afford to buy radio time to talk up our achievements. So I'm the person who talks us up. We need all the support we can get."
"My goal," he said at the conclusion of eloquent remarks as the guest speaker at the 2001 minority students and alumni dinner at P&S, "is quite simply to take a vital Harlem institution and make it thrive."
A fellow of both the American College of Gastroenterology and the American College of Physicians, he received the 2002 Leon Bogues Award for Commitment to Social Reform by the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.
Married to Judy Young, an independent entrepreneur, Dr. Daniel finds time to serve as the president of his alumni class at P&S, where he also sits on the Diversity Committee. "My greatest honor and my greatest privilege," he says, "is to strive to make a difference."
Profiles in Giving
Retired Internist and Avid Botanist Sows the Seeds of Learning with Scholarship Fund
BY PETER WORTSMAN
HE WAS BORN IN THE BRONX, EARNED BOTH A PH.D. IN ANATOMY and an M.D. at P&S, trained at Presbyterian Hospital, and practiced medicine for his entire professional life in Manhattan. Retired internist and avid amateur botanist Samuel Dvoskin'45 has always had his "roots planted firmly in [his] native soil" and thought it high time to "spread some seeds of learning." He also wanted to pay tribute to his late wife, Leila. It was only natural, therefore, for him to establish a scholarship fund in her name at P&S and to ensure through a generous bequest that it will thrive in perpetuity.
"Here was a poor boy born with nothing," he recalls of himself, "who ended up studying medicine at one of America's finest schools. I'll never forget the privilege that P&S gave me. Maybe I would've made a good shoe salesman, but I would never have satisfied my mind. What a wonderful profession medicine is: You can not only learn the secrets of life but also help people in the process. Why shouldn't some other worthy student have the same opportunity?"
Dr. Dvoskin conducted research toward a Ph.D. in the laboratory of the renowned endocrinologist Philip E. Smith and taught anatomy at P&S before enrolling in medical school at the urging of dean of students
Aura Severinghaus. Elected to Alpha Omega Alpha and awarded the prestigious Janeway Prize, he proved his academic prowess. He went on to pursue his internship and medical residency at Presbyterian Hospital, then joined the Pack Medical Group, a highly respected practice. His patients included such high profile personalities as the late Ferdinand Marcos, former president of the Philippines, and the late Joaquín Balaguer, former president of the Dominican Republic. Dr. Dvoskin and his wife were invited as honored guests to the capital, Santo Domingo, where he delivered a lecture on breast cancer and was awarded a Citation as Distinguished Visitor.
A captain in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953, Dr. Dvoskin served as chief of the medical service of the U.S. Army Hospital at Fort McClellan in Alabama. An Army chaplain once encouraged him to "help the sick and poor in Africa," but he realized that "I could do that as well in my own backyard in the free clinics of New York." While tending to his private patients, throughout his career he always made time to see indigent patients at no charge at the Presbyterian clinic, where his wife worked as a clinic aide.
He and his wife lived frugally. His greatest satisfaction, he said, was "to practice medicine exactly in the thorough fashion in which I was educated" by his legendary medical mentors Dana Atchley and Robert Loeb. "We were privileged to practice in a golden era of medicine, when, if your diagnosis was right and you thought of the right remedy, you could really make a contribution to the patient's well-being."
Learning "for the sheer joy of it" has always been of paramount importance in his life. In his retirement, Dr. Dvoskin continues to attend grand rounds regularly and gives of his time as a volunteer guide at the New York Botanical Garden.
"My wife and I both felt an obligation to return to society what society had given us," he says. "You've got to give back some of what you've been privileged to get, or else how do you hope to keep it going?" The Leila Dvoskin Scholarship Fund is "a tree in the garden of medicine that will one day bear fruit."
Rx for Travel
Taos: On Top of the World
BY PETER WORTSMAN
LIKE THE PYRAMIDS AND THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA, THE 1,000-year-old Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark (www.taospueblo.com), stands engraved on the mind's eye as if it had always been there. Flanked by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, on a high desert plain 6,965 feet above sea level, this five-storied red adobe wonder, organically conceived like a human honeycomb, looks as if it pushed its way fully formed out of Earth. It is spiritual home to the Tiwa, the Red Willow People, and to the rest of us a kind of Jacob's Ladder, joining heaven and Earth.
An escapee from its modern urban antithesis, I spent a blissful furlough in its proximity last spring, inhaling the scent of sage brush, basking in its otherworldly blue light.
I was, of course, not the first pale face entranced by its spirit.
Spanish missionaries and colonials and Anglo mountaineers, like the legendary Kit Carson, built up the frontier town of Don Fernando de Taos, Taos for short, that sprouted south of the Pueblo. Kit's old home is a colorful museum. The Hacienda de los Martinez, an old colonial homestead preserved as a museum, celebrates the Spanish heritage that thrived here enriching the culture and spicing up the distinctive Southwestern cuisine.
A wave of artists, writers, and free thinkers in the early 20th century turned Taos into a mecca of creativity. Painter Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Ansel Adams immortalized the old San Francisco de Assis Church with its elephantine adobe buttresses in Rancho de Taos, the hamlet next door. Another visitor, British novelist and poet D.H. Lawrence, was famously entranced by the "eagle-like royalty" of the Southwest vistas. His ashes are enshrined in a little white chapel built by his widow at their ranch on Lobo Mountain, some 20 miles north of town.
The Taos Pueblo
The cult classic "Easy Rider," filmed here, recalls another time in the 1960s when Taos was the nexus of a back-to-nature movement. While most of the commune dwellers have moved on or metamorphosed into craftsmen and entrepreneurs, the eco-friendly lifestyle survives.
You can go with the flow on a rafting ride down the Rio Grande with Los Rios River Runners, 800/544-1181 (www.losriosriverrunners.com). You can savor the flavors at Cid's Market, 623 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, a vast organic and natural food emporium. You can soak it up at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, 800/222-9162 (www.ojocalientespa.com), take your troubles to a local curandera, a Spanish traditional healer, or zone out on an agave margarita at one of the watering holes on historic Taos Plaza.
You can live the spirit of Taos in lavish splendor at the ultimate nature-friendly resort, El Monte Sagrado, 800/828-8267 (www.elmontesagrado.com). Fechin Inn, 800/811-2933 (www.fechin-inn.com), captures the town's artistic heritage in its unique design. (Its cozy pueblo-inspired sister property, the Inn on the Alameda, 800/289-2122, www.innonthealameda.com, in Santa Fe, is the perfect place to decompress before flying out of Albuquerque.)
Or you can get it straight from the buffalo's mouth at Tiwa Indian Harold Cordova's Morning Talk Ranch, 505/758-1429 or 776-1439. A ride through the sentient sage brush on Harold's battered red pickup truck into the snorting heart of the herd is as close as any outsider can get to the mystery of Taos. For more information, contact the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, 800/732-8267 (www.taoschamber.com).
Alumni Association Activities
The professor and chairman of physiology and cellular biophysics, the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Medicine and Molecular Biology, and the director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology are not multiple faculty members but a one-man powerhouse as Dr. Andrew Marks, the holder of all the above titles and guest speaker at the council dinner on Nov. 19, 2003, made clear to alumni in attendance. Dr. Marks, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, joined the P&S faculty in 1997 and has since made his mark on an interdisciplinary field he carved out. His ongoing study of the way in which macromolecular signaling complexes regulate ion channel function in muscle and nonmuscle systems has shed new light on our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate muscle contraction. His pioneering work has also led to the discovery of molecular defects that affect heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. Coated stents for the treatment of coronary artery disease are just one of the revolutionary new therapies he had a hand in developing. In his council dinner remarks, titled "Recent Advances in Understanding and Treating Heart Failure and Cardiac Arrhythmias," Dr. Marks stressed that heart failure is the leading cause of death in industrialized society. Giving his audience a crash course on muscle function and the importance of the calcium ion channel to muscle contractility, he demonstrated how a drug of his devising can restore the stabilizing proteins and thereby control the calcium "leak" that can lead to arrhythmias. He noted that Columbia holds the patent to this drug.
P&S Surgeons Assemble in Chicago
The Alumni Association and the John Jones Society, the latter body comprising surgeons who trained at Presbyterian Hospital, co-hosted a cocktail reception in conjunction with the 89th annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons on Oct. 21, 2003, at the Chicago Hilton. P&S alumni and members of the Department of Surgery were well-represented among the speakers at the Congress' Scientific Program. Kenneth Forde'59, the Jose M. Ferrer Professor and vice dean of the Department of Surgery, officiated as host at the reception and gave a briefing of the state of current recruitments and appointment activities back home on Washington Heights. He also announced the publication of "A Proud Heritage, An Informal History of Surgery at Columbia," of which he was a co-editor, along with fellow faculty members Dr. Frederic P. Herter and Dr. Alfred Jaretzki III.
Minority Student and Alumni Dinner
Lester W. Blair'74, chairman of the Committee on Minority Affairs, shared the microphone with Alumni Association president Shearwood McClelland'74 at the Minority Student and Alumni Dinner on Nov. 14, 2003, at the Faculty Club. Dr. Blair announced the launching of the Campaign for Diversity to raise funds for minority scholarships. He welcomed Dean Gerald Fischbach to the podium. "Forty years ago," Dr. Fischbach told the group, "I was put on the waiting list [at P&S]. So when they called upon me to become dean, I said: ‘Finally!' The dean was followed by Dr. McClelland, who introduced an old friend, the evening's guest speaker, John T. Herbert'73, senior associate dean of Columbia University at Harlem Hospital. "We can't really practice good medicine without diversity," Dr. Herbert argued. Of his own appointment to the dean's office, he said, "With power comes responsibility. We have to take this power that we have been given and use it for society and for minority students." He underlined his commitment to Harlem Hospital, where he also is chairman of anesthesiology: "When we pay respect to our own community, we get a tremendous amount of satisfaction, as I have after 30 years of practice."
Samuel Bard Associates Dinner
FROM LEFT: Columbia University President Lee Bollinger; Dean Gerald Fischbach; Richard J. Stock'47; Eve E. Slater'71; P. Roy Vagelos'54; Dr. Andrew Marks, center, looks on as his father, Paul Marks'49, and Mitchell C. Benson'77 lock horns
The Rotunda of Low Memorial Library on Columbia's Morningside campus sparkled on Nov. 18, 2003, with a full house of distinguished doctors and their guests and a roster of dignitaries on the program. The occasion was the 21st Samuel Bard Associates Dinner, the annual black tie salute to generous friends and supporters of P&S. Annual Fund chairman and resident historian Richard J. Stock'47 led off with his traditional historical reflection. He focused his scintillating remarks on Samuel Bard's less well known work in public health. Yellow fever was the scourge of his time and Dr. Bard set out to investigate its origin. And whereas he did not understand viruses, his keen sense of observation eventually led to the identification of the Fresh Water Pond in today's Murray Hill section of Manhattan as the source of the mosquitos responsible, and the pond was drained. The last incident of yellow fever was reported in 1822.
Dr. Stock passed the microphone to Dean Gerald Fischbach, who spoke of the birth of genetics in which Columbia professor Thomas Hunt Morgan played a key role. He also reported on a recent P&S symposium on genes and genomes to mark the 50th anniversary of the elucidation of the structure of DNA. Dr. Fischbach called P. Roy Vagelos'54 to the podium. Dr. Vagelos, retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co., in turn, introduced the evening's guest speaker, Eve E. Slater'71, former assistant secretary for health in the Bush administration, saluting her as a "key agent of change."
Dr. Slater paid tribute to P&S, "an institution with a tremendous medical legacy that we have gathered to celebrate this evening." She reflected on her role in helping to direct the nation's bio-security and health care reform as the helmswoman of the Office of Public Health and Science in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. The telephone rang on her first day on the job with the first reported case of anthrax infection. Preparedness for a bio-attack is essential, she insisted, worrying "how we are going to motivate the best and the brightest scientists to work on drugs or antidotes that will, hopefully, remain on the shelf?" Another concern she expressed was the lack of a "checklist to see if the states are doing what needs to be done to make their citizens safe and secure." She bemoaned fundamental faults in the American health care system. "Unless we begin to face the fundamental reasons for escalating medical costs," she said, "we will fail to make substantive progress." Appealing directly to her audience, she asked: "What are we, what is each of us, doing to address the quality of care? For the most part, medical leaders have not been invited to the centers of decision making." She called upon the M.D.s of America, and P&S physicians in particular, to enter the fray to help reshape the American health care system.
The evening's final speaker was Columbia University's president, Lee Bollinger. President Bollinger reported on the discussions under way that should lead to the University's expansion to Manhattanville, a tract of land on Manhattan's West Side between Morningside Heights and Washington Heights now occupied, for the most part, by abandoned warehouses.
"What are the most pressing areas of human knowledge and how can this University address them?" he asked. To which he replied: "One is the arts, the other is life sciences. We want to be at the forefront at every level," he said, eliciting enthusiastic applause, "and you all will play a vital role in reshaping the intellectual future."
BY MARIANNE WOLFF'52
ARCHIBALD G. FLETCHER is working on his memoirs, including his 38 years of service as a missionary surgeon in India, Nepal, and Cameroon. Archie now resides in Duarte, Calif. Two of his five sons are physicians. Archie is looking forward to attending his 65th P&S reunion in 2007!
CHARLES T. PRICE is president of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America.
GEORGE H. MCCORMACK, associate clinical professor of medicine at P&S, has announced his retirement. George was once dubbed by his peers "the Doctor's Doctor," a well-deserved honor.
FRANK E. IAQUINTA completed an eight-year term as a trustee of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. The Senhauser Professorship in Pathology at Ohio State University was endowed in honor of DONALD A. SENHAUSER in June 2003.
CHUCK DOOLITTLE, a long time thespian by avocation, has finally landed a romantic lead in "A Talent for Murder," a play based on the life of Agatha Christie. Written by J. Chodorov and N. Panama, the play received the Edgar Allen Poe Award for best mystery play in the early 1980s. If you live near Mesa, Ariz., you might catch Chuck's performance. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has selected PAUL H. GERST, professor of surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, to receive one of 10 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Awards for his role as program director of the general surgery residency training program at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. Paul is also director of the Department of Surgery, chief of general surgery, and chief of thoracic surgery at Bronx-Lebanon, positions he has held for more than 30 years. Under his leadership the residency program has consistently been awarded full accreditation; the most recent review could find not a single example of noncompliance.
JAROSLAV F. HULKA has "gone back to his first love, music," and finds that "with regular practice we old geezers can still do Brahms and Tchaikovsky right." Jerry's wife, BARBARA'59, is also a musician again. "With music and grandchildren how would we have time to practice medicine?"
MARTIN J. WOHL: See Class of 1958.
NORMAN TALAL and his wife, Marilyn, devised a program in alternative medicine they named "Achieving Wellness through the Arts." Marilyn is a poet with a Ph.D. Their son Andrew is an assistant professor of medicine in the GI Division at the Cornell campus of New York- Presbyterian Hospital. MARY ELLEN BECK WOHL, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, retired as chief of respiratory diseases at Boston Children's Hospital. Mary Ellen and her husband, MARTIN J.'57, have two children.
Program chair of a large residency program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Berish Strauch is professor and academic chairman of plastic surgery. His clinical interests lie in cosmetic and body contouring surgery. He runs an active laboratory and published a textbook in December 2003 on the anatomy of the upper extremity. Barbara Hulka: See Class of 1956.
Manhattan College awarded an honorary doctorate to PETER E. DANS in October 2003. Peter's P&S classmate JOHN ROBINSON and his wife were present, along with other members of the Dans family, to celebrate this event at Peter's undergraduate alma mater.
In 1998 SPENCER SHERMAN founded the Alcon-Spencer & Sherman Museum of Ophthalmology in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1983 he founded the Museum of Ophthalmology of the Academy of Ophthalmology in San Francisco. ALTON L. STEINER: See Class of 1997.
MURRAY EPSTEIN, professor of medicine at the University of Miami, has edited the third edition of his book, "Calcium Antagonists in Clinical Medicine," which surveys the continuum of cardiovascular and renal effects of this class of drugs. JEROME L. SHUPACK, professor of dermatology and director of dermatopharmacology at NYU, is very active doing research, teaching, and carrying on a private practice.
GEORGE B. LONGSTRETH runs a free clinic in Khammam, India, and is always looking for help when he visits there each January; he particularly needs an anesthesiologist, a surgeon, an internist, and a pediatrician, so contact him if you are available.
MARK E. JOSEPHSON is at Harvard Medical School as the Herman Dana Professor of Medicine. He is chief of the cardiovascular division, director of the Harvard-Thorndike Arrhythmia Institute, and medical director of the Vascular Center at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. THOMAS P. SCULCO has been appointed to two prestigious positions: surgeon-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery and chairman of orthopedic surgery at Cornell Medical College.
|Peter Carmel MSD'70 with a young patient, Savana Delgado
PETER W. CARMEL made the New York Magazine list of "Best Doctors" in the New York area for 2003. Peter is professor of neurosurgery and director of the Center for Pediatric Neurosurgery at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. He was featured in the Fall 2003 issue of UMDNJ Healthstate. He is married to JACQUELINE A. BELLO'80.
Cardiologist LON G. SHERMAN decided to return to graduate school to obtain an MPH. To his great surprise he found one of the instructors to be his P&S classmate ELLIOT ANTMAN. Small world!
BOB DECRESCE has been named the Harriett B. Borland Professor and Chairman of Pathology at Rush Medical College in Chicago. Following his graduation from P&S, Bob received his MBA and MPH from Columbia. Bob and his wife, Mary, have two college-age sons. MAURICE JAMES, who practices ophthalmology in Jackson, Miss., is featured in the book "Breaking the Color Line in Medicine: African Americans in Ophthalmology," published by Slack Inc. According to co-author Dr. Lenworth N. Johnson, "the book models the ideals encouraged by Columbia University and is an inspiration to challenge young people, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender, to consider medicine and science as a career." Maurice and his wife, Mavis, have three children, all of whose names begin with M.
The Pathologist, the Piano, and P&S BY PETER WORTSMAN
|Jay Lefkowitch'76 at the piano he donated to the Faculty Club
The old piano in the Faculty Club made Jay Lefkowitch'76 wince every time he heard it played. A modern Renaissance man and in many ways the consummate P&S physician, Dr. Lefkowitch, professor of clinical pathology, is equally at ease discussing liver biopsies and Leonard Bernstein, tumors and symphonies. He divides his life between the lecture halls at Columbia and the concert halls at Lincoln Center. So last summer, when Lincoln Center put a ballet studio full of minimally played Kawai baby grands up for sale, Dr. Lefkowitch had an idea.
"I didn't necessarily have a lot of money lying around," he says, "but the occasion was too good to resist. I wanted to do something that would, with some longevity, benefit the school and give me pleasure in the giving."
And when the distributor, the Broadway Piano Company, found out that he intended to donate the piano to a medical school, they substantially reduced the already discounted price. The piano debuted at the Alumni Council Dinner on Jan. 21, 2004, the first dinner of the year. Dr. Lefkowitch left the honor of breaking in the keys to student members of the P&S Musicians' Guild who played a piece of music he composed for the occasion.
A loyal and generous alumnus, Dr. Lefkowitch acknowledged a benign ulterior motive. "I just felt like I needed to do something again for the school to focus attention on alumni giving what they can when and how they feel able," he says. "The school has multiple needs. Maybe it's time for each of us to think how we can help."
JENNIFER S. DALY was appointed professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts, where she also serves as clinical chief of infectious diseases and immunology. Professor and assistant chairman of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Florida Health Science Center/Jacksonville, Andrew M. Kaunitz was selected as a member of the first cohort of "Exemplary Teachers." This award recognizes outstanding teaching efforts by University of Florida medical faculty and is based on evaluations by medical students, residents, and colleagues. Andy was also a member of the ninth annual Multidisciplinary Symposium on Breast Disease in February 2003, where he discussed the current take on hormone replacement therapy.
DONALD J. KURTH, associate professor of addiction medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at Loma Linda University and medical director of the chemical dependency unit at the Behavioral Medicine Center in Redlands, Calif., has been named a fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Developing Leadership in Reducing Substance Abuse" fellowship program. During the three-year fellowship, participants pursue activities in a range of disciplines, including education, policy development, research, clinical treatment, and political and legal advocacy. Don is also chairman of the Public Policy Committee of the California Society of Addiction Medicine and the society's president-elect. He is also a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, where he serves as co-chairman of the Therapeutic Communities Committee. Therapeutic Communities is the topic of a chapter Don contributed to "Principles of Addiction Medicine;" the third edition was published in 2003. Don believes that addiction requires prevention, enforcement, and treatment. "The time has come to end the discrimination against people suffering from addictive disease in America." In addition to his professional activities, Don is a city councilman of the City of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (pop. 14,000). PHYLLIS WITZEL SPEISER is professor of pediatrics at NYU and director of pediatric endocrinology at Schneider Children's Hospital. She serves on the Pediatric Endocrinology Sub-Board of the American Board of Pediatrics. She is the author of a review article on congenital adrenal hyperplasia that appeared in the August 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
JACQUELINE A BELLO: See Class of 1970.
RITA J. LOUARD served as president of the South Central Regional Board of the American Diabetes Association and chaired the Georgia Diabetes Advisory Council during 2003.
In addition, she received two awards: the J.B. Johnson Award from the National Medical Association and the American Legacy Magazine Multicultural Healthcare Award.
PAMELA KARASIK, assistant chief of cardiology at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is the mother of three, her children ranging in age from 3 to12, which keeps her "quite busy!" Former chief of surgery at Coral Springs Medical Center, DAVID J. LEVENS was appointed vice chief of staff. He continues his private practice of plastic surgery in the Coral Springs community.
REBECCA J. KURTH, associate professor of clinical medicine at P&S, was one of 50 physicians nominated by medical students nationwide for the prestigious Association of American Medical Colleges Humanism in Medicine Award.
DAVOREN CHICK has been named program director for the internal medicine residency at Michigan State University.
|FROM LEFT: Kevin Myers'97, Alton L. Steiner'62, and Robert J. Cornell'97
Fellow Texans KEVIN MEYERS and ALTON L. STEINER'62 were on hand to celebrate the grand opening of ROBERT J. CORNELL's solo urology practice in Houston, Texas. Rob's major interests in the field are BPH, erectile dysfunction, and urinary incontinence. JONATHAN SVAHN: See Class of 2000.
TIFFANY HOLCOMBE SVAHN and her husband, JONATHAN SVAHN'97, are the proud parents of a daughter, Sarah. Tiffany is pursuing a medical oncology fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in California.
Doctors in Print:
Surgery From Scratch
"A Proud Heritage, An Informal History of Surgery at Columbia"
EDITED BY Frederic P. Herter, Alfred Jaretzki III, and Kenneth A. Forde'59
WITH CONTRIBUTIONS BY Alfred M. Markowitz, Kenneth M. Steinglass, and Philip D. Wiedel'41
ISSUED BY the John Jones Surgical Society, 2003 131 pages
REVIEWED BY PETER WORTSMAN
Before anesthesia and antiseptics, before the sterilization of surgical instruments and the cleansing of the OR, John Jones, the first professor of surgery at King's College (the original name of Columbia) and the man commonly recognized as the father of American surgery, led the way from the crude province of the barber-surgeon to the rarefied realm of the surgeon-scientist. "The greatest operators have always been remarkable for the extent of their knowledge," he wrote in 1767 in his introductory lecture on "The Theory of Chirurgie with a Course of Operations Upon the Human Body."
The tradition launched by Dr. Jones that thrives today at P&S is the subject of a new book, "A Proud Heritage, An Informal History of Surgery at Columbia," published in 2003 by the Department of Surgery under the aegis of the John Jones Surgical Society.
"It is thrilling to realize that the scientific thinking and the commitment to education were there from the start," said Kenneth Forde'59, the Jose M. Ferrer Professor of Clinical Surgery and one of the book's co-editors, along with Drs. Frederic P. Herter and Alfred Jaretzki III. "That's what sets Columbia apart. The concern about the education and training of the surgeon for his or her craft has always been the pervading influence here. And I hope that comes through in the book."
A successor of Dr. Jones, Valentine Mott, is considered the father of vascular surgery.
As the book recounts, close to a century and a half later, another bold and academically astute P&S surgeon, Arthur Voorhees, co-authored a paper (with Alfred Jaretzki) "describing the successful bridging of arterial gaps in dogs with flexible tubes made of a synthetic mesh...a discovery that revolutionized the field of vascular surgery."
Readers of this eminently accessible volume, full of vintage photos, will be delighted to learn of the men and women who made history here. Well-known department chairman Allen Oldfather Whipple devised, during exploratory surgery, his famous Whipple procedure for extirpating cancer of the pancreas. Among his many surgical feats, George Humphreys, another revered chairman, performed the first ligation in New York of a patent ductus arteriosus. Credited with pioneering cardiac surgery as an academic discipline at Columbia, he had a hand in designing the finest surgical training program of its time.
Charles R. Drew, the first African-American to earn a doctor of medical science degree at P&S and in the nation, developed a method of preserving blood plasma, revolutionizing blood preservation and banking. He later became professor and chairman of surgery at Howard University.
It was here too that Virginia Apgar'33, a Columbia-trained surgeon, the first woman to enter the field of anesthesiology, and the director of the anesthesia service in the Department of Surgery, developed the famous Apgar Score for appraising the health of neonates.
The late Keith Reemtsma, another celebrated Columbia surgeon and department chairman, was among the pioneers of heart transplantation. His successor at the helm of the department, Eric Rose'75, made history when, with Dr. Reemtsma looking on, he performed the first successful pediatric heart transplant.
"The challenges have changed," Dr. Forde reflects, "but the abiding concern for education as an essential prerequisite to precision, this remains the hallmark of surgery at Columbia."