Medicine and Music

Dear Editor,
When I viewed the cover of the Winter 2004 issue I became both nostalgic and excited to read of the continuing musical tradition at the medical center. While the evolution of the Musicians' Guild is noteworthy and commendable, the author's complete failure to recognize the long tradition of music and, more specifically, student-organized and -generated music at P&S was beyond disappointing.
In particular, any story of this type must give recognition to the remarkable efforts and talents of the late John Chase Wood Jr.'76. In fact, the tragedy of John's untimely death was noted in the previous volume of this journal (Fall 2003). In the 1970s John single-handedly resurrected classical music performance at P&S. He formed chamber groups that gave regular concerts at Bard Hall. He was a superb French horn artist and participated in some of these groups and simply acted as the catalyst for others.
He spent an enormous amount of time creating and funding the Bard Hall Orchestra, which was a compilation of local student talent supplemented with professionals from the New York area. The annual performance of this orchestra was one of the highlights of the academic year and was annually met with enormous and enthusiastic audiences. I was lucky enough to have played with John at one of these events. John Austin was an active participant in many of these events.
While again recognizing the wonderful achievements of the Musicians' Guild one must not ignore the rich and very recent history of the arts and music at P&S and some of its unique contributors.
MICHAEL JACOBS'79, BALTIMORE

Dear Editor,
Your article about Music and Medicine (P&S, Winter 2004) was most enjoyable. It brought back memories of my admission interview with Dr. Andrew Frantz, who, to my pleasant surprise, was genuinely interested in my classical piano background. Along this topic, I'd like to share with you a recent musical/medical event from Hawaii, where I now reside and practice ophthalmology. To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Aloha Medical Mission, which is a nonprofit, volunteer, Hawaii-based organization providing health care to underserved people of Asia and the Pacific Rim, we recently held a unique fund-raising piano concert called "Four Doctors and a Patient" at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu (our local version of Lincoln Center). This would be my very first time on stage, but it was for a great cause, so as one of the four doctors, I volunteered to perform two pieces, Beethoven's "Sonata Pathetique" and Chopin's "Ballade No. 1." The main thrill was a very supportive, full-house crowd of more than 2,000, which helped raise more than $150,000 for the Aloha Medical Mission! The magic of music and medicine is truly amazing, and I applaud the efforts of the Musicians' Guild, Musical Mondays, and the Bard Hall Players at P&S.
And of course, I owe a big thank you to Dr. Frantz for his encouragement and support of our musical and artistic interests.
TIMOTHY LEE'81, BY E-MAIL

New Clinical Skills Exam

Dear Editor,
I was sorry to read of the use of standardized patients described as "actors coached to portray patients with specified clinical histories." (P&S, Spring/Summer 2004). There are always educational fads that have their moment but this is more insidious, it is harmful. An important skill for a doctor to develop is the ability to distinguish patients with potentially serious medical problems from those who have been described as worried well. This skill comes from the accumulated experience with multiple patients; how they look, how they sound, not least the response they evoke in you. Every patient encounter contributes to this experience which is only adulterated by actors pretending to have a disease.
L.A. HEALEY'54, BY E-MAIL

Corrections

P&S Founder Samuel Bard
Did Not Eradicate Yellow Fever

Dear Editor,
I am writing to avoid being the source of an error, particularly one that involves the history of Dr. Samuel Bard. In the Spring/Summer 2004 issue, I am quoted as saying that Dr. Bard identified Fresh Water Pond in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan as the home of the mosquito responsible for epidemic yellow fever, and the pond was drained. There are too many inaccuracies in this quotation to be ignored.
In spite of his many accomplishments Dr. Bard could not have known and certainly did not know that yellow fever was transmitted by an insect vector. He did not know that this vector was a mosquito, and he did not know that the mosquito bred in Fresh Water Pond, which was not located in the Murray Hill section but in an area now occupied by the Hall of Detention and Justice, mordantly known as the Tombs. Fresh Water Pond was not drained. Instead, Murray Hill was leveled to provide the landfill to dump into Fresh Water Pond so that houses could be built to accommodate Manhattan's rapidly expanding population.
Dr. Bard had nothing to do with the eradication of yellow fever in Manhattan. Nevertheless, he would have been pleased to learn that the last epidemic occurred the year following his death, for he had devoted much of his clinical attention to the disease. He also acquired yellow fever while attending stricken patients. It greatly weakened him, but he survived.
RICHARD J. STOCK'47, NEW YORK

Guttmann Professorhip
The announcement of DR. RUTH GUTTMANN's death (Spring/Summer 2004, P&S Journal) incorrectly described the status of an endowment Dr. Guttmann established in 1997 to honor her father, George Guttmann, an oral surgeon. The George Guttmann fund was used to create the George Guttmann Professorship of Clinical Craniofacial Surgery (in the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, surgery, and otolaryngology). Dr. Steven M. Roser was the first George Guttmann Professor, a position he held from 1997 until his retirement this year. The notice of Ruth Guttmann's death incorrectly said the professorship had not yet been established.

Send Letters to:
Editor, P&S Journal
College of Physicians & Surgeons
630 W. 168th St.
New York, NY 10032
E-mail: psjournal@columbia.edu