Six Months Later: Schwartz Rounds Tackles Healing Process of Caregivers in the Wake of Marathon Bombings
It has been six months since Marathon Monday, a day that in years to come will never be the same for many Bostonians. On Oct. 15, BMC’s Schwartz Center Rounds marked the anniversary and served as an opportunity for staff to gather as a community and assess its collective healing progress.
Schwartz panelists address the crowd
Schwartz Center Rounds are held in more than 200 facilities in 32 states and commemorate Kenneth Schwartz, a Massachusetts health-care lawyer diagnosed with lung cancer in 1994 who believed in nurturing the compassion in medicine. The rounds provide a forum where BMC caregivers from multiple hospital disciplines come together to discuss the emotional impact and challenges of patient care based on an actual case. The Oct. 15 rounds however, focused on a different theme; the events of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the importance of caregivers’ self-healing.
Thomas Barber, MD, Schwartz Rounds Physician Leader, and Carol Mostow, LICSW, Schwartz Rounds Facilitator, introduced the topic of remembering vulnerability, celebrating strength and integrating lessons for everyday work six months after the Marathon. Panel speakers included Jared Greer, Certified Radiology Technician; Doug Comeau, DO, CAQSM, FAAFP, Director of Sports Medicine; Jeffrey Kalish, MD, Director of Endovascular Surgery; and Elizabeth Dugan, LICSW, Manager, Violence Intervention Advocacy Program. Each panelist provided their unique perspective and experience of the April 15 tragedy.
Comeau told the audience that he was stationed in a medical tent at the Marathon finish line and spoke of the chaos that ensued following the bomb.
“The ground shook like fireworks were going off and there was complete panic. I didn’t know if my team, the people I had worked with for so many years, was alive,” he recalled. “That kind of vulnerability stays with you.”
Greer was working when the influx of patients from the marathon hit BMC.
“It was complete chaos,” he said. “But one good thing that came out of it is the renewed respect that I have for my colleagues. Everyone pulled together and my relationship with other departments was completely changed, in a good way, and it made me proud to work here.”
Kalish, as a member of the surgical team who operated on many of the most gravely injured patients, also spoke of the camaraderie.
“The usual hierarchy was gone. Everyone worked together and did whatever needed to be done. From nursing to transport to housekeeping, everyone pitched in and it created an extremely productive environment,” he said. “Quite frankly, this is a model that we should be using more often.”
Dugan offered insight on how violence affects many of the patients BMC sees every day and challenged the room to acknowledge their success in caring for the patients that day and carry it forward to future patients.
When the platform turned to the audience for reflection, the mood was hopeful as participants spoke about taking the time to focus on getting help to move past such a tragic event.
“One of the charges of running a marathon is the cheers you get along the way,” summed up Mostow. “By acknowledging the amount of tragedy we see, we are showing compassion for ourselves. Everyone needs to be cared for. Caregivers are no exception.”
BMC continues to offer a range of support services to staff as they heal. To learn more, visit the Human Resources section of the BMC intranet.