Letters and E-mail

Dear Editor,
It was interesting to see this picture ("Donations of the Paper Kind," Page 30, Fall 2004 P&S) since I am one of those in it. A little explanation is needed beyond the caption provided (that a group of P&S Class of 1945 was clowning for Albert Grokoest's camera). It is the members of the third-year medicine rotation at Presbyterian Hospital who had Dr. Hanger as a mentor. We were imitating Dr. Hanger's characteristic pose on rounds.

Dear Editor,
I was very moved by the tributes paid to Steve Miller in the Winter 2005 P&S magazine. It is clear that Steve touched everyone he had contact with and I want to provide an off-campus view. I didn't know Steve through P&S; instead, I knew him through his humanism and professionalism activities, largely at the AAMC where I, too, was a student of his, having participated each year in workshops among other activities there. While I cannot speak for the other 200 or 300 of us throughout the country who are heavily involved with humanism and professionalism projects (largely stimulated by the Gold Foundation), I found Steve's personality, knowledge, and ability to connect with us, his peers, to be unparalleled. His death was tragic and while we tend to repeat rotely that someone or other will be missed, his loss will truly be felt deeply and acutely in our dedicated bunch.

Dear Editor,
I am currently researching the life of one of P&S and Presbyterian Hospital's earliest staff members, Dr. Martin Henry Dawson. I am curious whether his name has ever come up in any articles the journal may have done about the pioneering work on penicillin that took place at the college/hospital back between 1940 and 1945? Four key individuals from the staff were involved: Karl Meyer and Gladys Hobby are fairly well known. Dawson, the leader, died of overwork in 1945 and is known now only to historians, if that. The last team member is Eleanor Chaffee and she is even more invisible.
I hope my email might stir some memories from older members of the P&S community, who might recall Henry Dawson, even if only by repute.
Editor's Note: This query from Michael Marshall arrived while the Winter 2005 issue of P&S which had a feature on Columbia's role in the development of penicillin was in its final stages. He still would like to hear from any P&S alumni and faculty who recall the penicillin participants at P&S. The Winter 2005 article was suggested by Paul Kirschner'41, who had seen the new book on penicillin, "The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle," and thought readers should know more about the important role Columbia played.

Dear Editor,
A minor bit of P&S music and humor and correction: Susan Carver Buchanan'56 (Letters, Winter 2005 issue) is correct. Ginny Apgar was a fine musician, but her instrument was viola, not violin. She did build them. The great story is her carefully planned removal of a piece of exactly the right kind of wood for a viola back which she spotted in a phone booth in Harkness. She obtained a replacement piece of ordinary Douglas fir, stained it to match, and picked a time when no one was around, and with an accomplice took the booth wall apart and replaced it all in a short period late one night.
The story is more fully described by Dr. Selma Calmes in her biography of Ginny.
Editor's Note: The story was also recalled in the Fall 1994 P&S Journal cover story on Dr. Apgar and the Apgar stamp and the Fall 2003 anniversary issue's "75 People, Events, and Contributions Worth Remembering" in Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center's 75-year history.

Dear Editor,
I enjoyed Dr. Christy's portrait of Robert C. Darling in the current P&S Journal; indeed I value Dr. Christy's entire series as a much needed spotlight on aspects of the history of our school. I am a bit puzzled, however, as to why he considers Dr. Darling's career different from the "success" stories of most of his other subjects. Dr. Darling had superb credentials and early research accomplishments, an endowed and long professorship, a long life and, presumably, deep interest and satisfaction from pioneering a very important if sometimes undervalued part of medicine. His work on cystic fibrosis is still cited and he clearly helped found an important new specialty.
Further, not everyone who made major contributions at P&S was in the limelight at West 168th Street for their career, the focus of almost all of Dr. Christy's sketches. Among those who also need celebration are Cournand at Bellevue, Seegal at Goldwater, Gutman at Mount Sinai, Cherkasky at Montefiore, and many others at the affiliated hospitals. There are also many who started their careers on the Columbia staff (on the Heights or not) and this work became a springboard for later world-class accomplishments elsewhere, including that on bone marrow transplantation by E. Donnall Thomas at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, which led to his Nobel Prize. Bill Silverman, who died recently, left Babies Hospital after a quarter-of-a-century of major contributions to the care of premature infants, of input into understanding the cause of retrolental fibroplasia, and of recognition of the need for ethical analyses of medical interventions. As my instructor in pediatrics, I found that Dr. Silverman was one of the few faculty members who then involved students in such philosophical discussions. In his later career in San Francisco, he continued to exert a major influence on the development of thinking about clinical trials and of evidence-based medicine.
I would hope that the series will broaden to include portraits of a much larger section of the biomedical excellence that Columbia helped spawn.

Dear Editor,
It's always interesting to learn of recent appointments to the teaching staff of the Medical Center, especially those new to Columbia. Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the new chair of psychiatry, is such an individual. I would take gentle issue with one of his comments, however: I would not feel that the Columbia University Medical Center needs to make "...our psychiatric services the 'Mayo Clinic' for persons needing care....." Columbia P&S needs to morph into the Mayo Clinic?

Dear Editor,
The one subject that our class seems to have missed is "Business Administration." It was never offered in our curriculum, in 1953. I strongly suggest such a series of courses be added to the medical student's schooling. After leaving the academic world and entering private practice, the very first thing they will face will be the running of their own office. This will be the same even if they enter a medical group practice.
The practice of medicine has been permanently affected by the third-party insurance companies. It is no longer viable for one to be in the solo practice of medicine. The doctor has to be able to account for the cash flow of his/her practice, plus the managing of many office employees. One can have an "office manager" who will handle these situations, but the doctor still has to double check on this person's performance. Too often these "managers" have been found to steal from or shortchange the physician's income. This has happened to a few of my fellow doctors. A business background taught to medical students while in medical school will be of major importance in their future practices. Associated with this learning experience should be legal counsel, taught by a lawyer familiar with the practice of medicine.
Our way of practicing medicine has vanished. It is time for our medical school to "get aboard" now.

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

| TOP |