It's likely to become one of the lasting images of the disaster in Japan—a soldier holding a four-month old baby saved from the rubble. I don't know about you, but after watching countless clips on YouTube of the raging waters ripping houses off of their foundation, or seeing pictures of medics scanning people for radiation exposure, I needed something to lift my spirits. That picture did it. It's a reminder that amidst the devastation, there are signs of hope.
My guess is that many U.S. health care workers are already trying to figure out ways to help in the ongoing relief efforts, to be part of that hope. Some, like Kelly Kreisler, M.D., are already on their way. Kreisler is a physician at the University of Kansas Hospital and is part of a relief mission organized by Heart-to-Heart International. "I am the mom in the car pool line that you see and not some really special kind of person. Because of that, other people can do something too," she told her local news channel.
There are sure to be similar reports about clinicians, technicians and others from your community. We saw the same response to last year's devastating earthquake in Haiti. I recall talking with Andy Davidson, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, for more than an hour about his experience heading up a relief mission and serving as temporary administrator of King's Hospital in Port-Au-Prince. And early this year, at our Rural Health Leadership Conference, Paul Auerbach, M.D., spoke passionately about the herculean efforts of clinicians at University Hospital, also in Port-Au-Prince.
So often those of us in the media only highlight these heroic efforts in times of disaster. They are dramatic and compelling human-interest stories. But we know that there are many untold tales of hospital staff doing amazing things right here at home. That's why a couple of years ago H&HN started the Extra Mile column. In the pages of the magazine each month, we profile the efforts of hospital workers who go above and beyond the call of duty. Some of the stories are big, some are small, but in the end, they are all about health care workers making a difference. There's the ICU nurse who created a colorful picture book called "What's This Stuff?" to try and put children at ease before they go see a parent in the ICU. There's the midwife who travels to war-torn Afghanistan to deliver babies. And then there's the trauma registrar who awoke from a coma after an ATV accident to become a vocal proponent of rider safety.
Whether they are heading to international disasters, or responding to needs in your local community, we want to hear about staff who are doing extraordinary things.
Email your stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.