Henry Ford Cardiologist was First Voice Against the Tuskegee Study

The headline in the research journal was so startling that Dr. Irwin Schatz had to read it several times before it sunk in:

“The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis: 30 years of Observation”

The year was 1964 and Dr. Schatz was a young cardiologist at Henry Ford Hospital when he came upon the study.

Dr. Irwin Schatz (Photo courtesy of The John A. Burns School of Medicine)

Dr. Irwin Schatz (Photo courtesy of The John A. Burns School of Medicine)

Little did he know at the time that his subsequent actions and response to the study would become a lasting legacy, a point remembered and celebrated in pieces written this week in the New York Times and Washington Post to mark Dr. Schatz’s recent passing at the age of 83.

Dr. Schatz was called the “first, lonely voice” to object to the now-infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African-American men in Alabama.

Only four years out of medical school and with limited resources, Dr. Schatz was truly courageous in his actions.

Objecting to the experiments on uneducated black men of the Tuskegee, Dr. Schatz wrote a scathing letter to the study authors at the U.S. Public Health Service.

While there was no treatment for syphilis when the study began in 1932, there certainly was a proven, effective treatment available to patients when the study was published – a point strongly noted in the letter Dr. Schatz wrote to the study authors in 1965.

The study had deliberately withheld treatment from the men – and in most cases, the men were not even told that they had this potentially fatal disease, passing it along to women and children. Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Our First Female Physicians

World War II was a turning point for women in the workforce of the United States.

Rosie the RiveterThe now-iconic image of Rosie the Riveter was emblematic of the patriotic need for women to enter the industrial labor workforce due to widespread male enlistment in the war.

Between 1940 and 1945, females in the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent. By 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home.

But opportunity wasn’t limited to factories; hospitals, too, felt the impact of war.

At Henry Ford Hospital, many staff joined the war effort in some capacity – 182 physicians, 105 nurses and 60 other personnel members.

While the decline in hospital workforce during World War II did not have the same effect as World War I (where the hospital was left unable to function and turned over to the Army for use, as previously discussed on Doc in the D), it undoubtedly had an impact on hospital operations.

Most notably, the war created a tremendous nursing shortage.

By 1942, roughly 10,000 nurses across the country served in the war. And more were still needed at home and abroad.

The war years also opened up other medical positions for women – many of whom joined the Henry Ford Hospital staff. Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

“Back to the Future” Part 2

In the second part of my three-part vodcast interview with Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting, we continue our discussion about the history of Henry Ford by taking a closer look the first physicians and nurses at Henry Ford Hospital.

Nancy and I talk about the formation of the Henry Ford Medical Group and the evolution of physician education and training, as well as our first physicians at Henry Ford Hospital – Physician-in-Chief Dr. Frank Sladen and Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Roy McClure.

We again highlight Clara Ford’s important influence during the hospital’s formative years, and her great belief in the caring nature of nursing and its pivotal role in the medical care provided to patients.

She was a driving force in developing the School of Nursing on the hospital campus in 1925. Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

IDEAL: Advancing Surgical Innovation

Advances in health care happen in a variety of ways.

Sometimes they occur as a matter of necessity – the desperate attempt to save a life.

Sometimes they occur as a matter of luck – the “eureka” moment of discovery.

1086979341_davinci0179

Robotic kidney surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.

Most of the time they occur as a result of thoughtful innovation, development and assessment, and then tested for reliability and safety.

When you take a prescription or an over-the-counter drug, you probably don’t give very much thought as to how that particular medication came to be; you know what it does, potential side-effects and why you’re taking it.

But there’s a strong process in place for developing new drugs and making them available to the masses, to ensure quality, safety and effectiveness:

  • The drug manufacturer tests it and submits evidence through a “new drug application” to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).
  • A team of CDER physicians, statisticians, chemists, pharmacologists, and other scientists then review the data provided in the application and propose labeling, should it be approved for use.
  • After that a clinical research process continues to test the validity of the studies and role of the medication in the treatment process.

Clear. Effective. Tested.

Ever wonder how the tracheostomy came to be a surgical method of treating an obstruction in the trachea?

The technique was clearly an innovation at the time. But it was not required to go through a randomized controlled trial or other strictures required of new prescription drugs and medical procedures.

You can take a drug “off label” for other uses – there’s a clear method for researching alternative uses and effectiveness as such.

Shouldn’t we have something similar in place for new surgical techniques? For surgical and procedural cases, the “off label” uses are not as clearly understood or often as rigorously scrutinized.

Once the “off label” procedure is proven to work, how do we ensure that it is safely performed by other surgeons and proceduralists? Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

The Tradition of National Doctors’ Day

National Doctors’ Day dates back to March 30, 1933 in Winder, Georgia, when Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set a day aside to honor physicians.

Dr. Gaetano Paone performing a TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) procedure.

Dr. Gaetano Paone performing a TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) procedure.

It wasn’t until 60 years later that President George H.W. Bush signed Proclamation 6253, establishing National Doctors’ Day to “recognize our Nation’s physicians for their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury…”

Like the first observance in 1933, National Doctors’ day is still marked by patients thanking their physicians, mailing greeting cards, or sending flowers.

I want to take time to honor Dr. Hillier.  He delivered me and was our family physician when I was growing up in Troy in the 50’s.

In those days, Troy was a rural community and there were not a lot of doctors or health facilities there.  So, when we were sick, we went miles south on Rochester Road to the Palmer Woods area on Woodward to see Dr. Hillier.

I was very sick with tonsillitis.

My mom waited for my dad to come home from work, which was after 6 p.m. He took a look at me and said to call Dr. Hillier. Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Doc in the “HS”

Some of you know I have dual roles – that of “Doc in the D” and “Doc in the HS,” as the Chief Medical Officer of Henry Ford Health System.

In that role, we are making some great strides in linking our physicians and clinicians in a more integrated sense.

This is by no means a solo effort.

Dr. Joanna Pease, the Assistant System Chief Medical Officer and Chief Medical Officer of Henry Ford Macomb, has been an amazing partner in moving forward these efforts. She is a warrior for extraordinary care, quality and support of our clinical work in the System.

A major goal is to get all of our programs and services working together throughout the System.

This is called clinical program integration.

And, as challenging as it is, it offers us tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of the Henry Ford Medical Group, employed physicians, and private practice physicians working together with the care teams, as well as the potential for seamlessness of care within our System.

Dr. Steven Harrington, the cardiovascular lead surgeon at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, is now an affiliate staff at Henry Ford Hospital.

Dr. Steven Harrington, the cardiovascular lead surgeon at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, is now an affiliate staff at Henry Ford Hospital.

Some of these activities are occurring right now. 

For example, Dr. Steven Harrington, the lead cardiovascular surgeon at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, is now an affiliate staff at Henry Ford Hospital, bringing his most complex cases to Detroit; a great surgeon and a great story.

It is wonderful to hear Steve talk about the expertise of the Henry Ford Hospital cardiovascular team — from pre-op to the OR to the ICU.

We’re very glad to have him on the team. He brings innovation and a way of thinking about quality that is priceless.

Don’t worry: The “Doc in the D” team has been at work on the Boulevard as well.  Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

The History Behind the Henry Ford Medical Group Insignia

Henry Ford Medical Group InsigniaYou see it every day at Henry Ford Hospital – on lab coats, hanging in the clinic building lobby or on a business card.

But what do you really know about the Henry Ford Medical Group Insignia, a symbol of our heritage and continuing mission of research, education and exemplary patient care?

While the Medical Group was established nearly 100 years ago, the insignia is a relatively new addition, having only been created within the past decade.

The insignia also is composed of several meaningful elements:

  • Shield: Truth and loyalty
  • Banner: Reward for valiant service
  • The word Invenio: Discovery and innovation
  • The word Committo: To unite, collaborate and work as a team
  • Branches with leaves: Symbolizes the reward of saving lives
  • Henry Ford Hospital and Model T Ambulance: Symbolizes the rich heritage of innovation represented by its founder.
  • Microscope: Symbolizes innovations in medical research and education.
  • Caduceus: Represents the medical profession and its commitment to healing. The snake symbolizes knowledge and wisdom.

There’s even a bit of controversy behind the creation of the Medical Group insignia.  Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Dr. Abouljoud Named Arab American of the Year

This past weekend, I attended the 42nd ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) Anniversary Dinner, honoring Marwan Abouljoud, M.D., director of the Transplant Institute at Henry Ford Hospital, as Arab American of the Year.

ACCESS presents the Arab American of the Year Award to individuals or groups that exemplify the organization’s mission to empower and engage Arab Americans. This year’s other awardee was National Public Radio journalist Diane Rehm.

ACCESS – an organization that focuses on empowering and enabling individuals, families and communities to lead informed, productive, culturally sensitive and fulfilling lives – has a long-standing partnership with Henry Ford. We’ve worked together to provide free health screenings and education, and so much more, in the community. And, its executive director, Hassan Jaber, is a member of the Henry Ford Hospital and Health Network Board of Trustees.

As Arab American of the Year, Dr. Abouljoud will take his place among a distinguished group of past honorees that includes former White House correspondent Helen Thomas; U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham; entertainers Casey Kasem and Tony Shalhoub; U.A.W. International President Stephen Yokich; U.S. Congressman Nick Rahall; the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee; and St. Jude Hospital.

Dr. Abouljoud has led transplant surgery at Henry Ford to national and international recognition. He performed the first split liver transplant in Michigan in 1996, and in 2000 developed the first adult-to-adult living donor liver transplant program in Michigan. Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Celebrating National Doctors’ Day

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
– Henry Ford

This Saturday, March 30, we’ll honor and celebrate the work of physicians who serve our communities as part of National Doctors’ Day.

While it officially became a day of national recognition in 1991, the observance of National Doctors’ Day dates back to March 30, 1933 in Winder, Georgia, when Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set a day aside to honor physicians.

Nearly 60 years later, President George H.W. Bush signed Proclamation 6253, establishing National Doctors’ Day to “recognize our Nation’s physicians for their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury…”

Traditionally, people celebrate the day by thanking their physicians, mailing greeting cards, or sending flowers.

The red carnation is commonly associated with the National Doctors’ Day. The first observance in 1933 included the mailing greeting cards and placing flowers on graves of deceased doctors. Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

The Annual Quality Expo

This week marked Henry Ford Health System’s 21st Annual Quality Expo.

The Quality Expo, hosted at Henry Ford Hospital, offers an opportunity for all of Henry Ford Health System to showcase the innovations and improvements made by our employees, departments and hospitals in the areas of health care quality, patient safety and care delivery.

Leo, a therapy dog at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, is one of the most remarkable therapists that I have ever encountered. Leo and HFWH’s Pet Therapy Program were featured at the Quality Expo.

Henry Ford is the only health care provider in southeast Michigan to host such an event.

The Quality Expo’s features 70 projects, all of which are aimed at reducing medical errors and improving patient safety, quality and satisfaction.

As always at this event, I was truly impressed, as I walked through the poster presentations and spoke with colleagues, by the tremendous work being done by our health care teams to continuously enhance quality and safety throughout the system.

I did stop to see one of our employees, Leo, a therapy dog at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

Leo is one of the most remarkable therapists that I have ever encountered.  He is calm, friendly, and extraordinarily soothing, and part of a great program of pet therapy throughout our System.  Within minutes of being with him, all of my concerns and anxieties were gone.

(Of course, my own dog, Co Co, previously feature in Doc In the D, continues to be the one I confide in the most.  Co Co’s colleague, Mr. Mo, aka Uncle Mo, provides coverage as needed. Sometimes both are needed to “treat” me.)  Continue reading

Share Doc in the D: