Yesterday for my radio show I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing a doctor who spent 25 years in the Navy, retired in 2005, and now serves a civilian population at University Hospital in Syracuse, NY with the skills he learned and developed while in the Navy.
A fitting program for Veteran’s Day 2007, don’t you think?
Dr. Ross Moquin retired as a commander, and served during both Iraq Wars, as a spinal and neuro surgeon. The stories he told were a mix of service to soldiers, and humanitarian efforts, too. We contrasted wartime medical care from World War II with how soldiers are cared for today — and what struck me more powerfully than any other message was how tuned in the military physicians are to the needs of the soldiers. For example, understanding that the sooner they see their loved ones, the more quickly they will recover, or at least get stronger.
Of interest to you, my reader, may be the fact that there are procedures and treatments being developed in military hospitals that are then translated to a civilian population. Dr. Moquin gave three examples. One is telemedicine — the idea that a doctor in one location, can walk a doctor through a procedure in another location by using video. Telemedicine isn’t new, but it’s being continually refined, partially in collaboration with the military.
A second area of work is for those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries — like American soldiers who are injured by IEDs (roadside bombs, improvised explosive devices). If a soldier is injured in the head, his/her skull is removed, all the repair work is done, and then once the brain is healed and the swelling goes down – up to a year later – a new skull is fabricated from some special material and only then is it replaced on the soldier’s head. Sounds fabulous — and like science fiction to me!
A third area of work is perhaps the biggest, because it’s more about a culture change and communications. Whereas western medicine in general has always separated spinal surgery and neuro surgery (two distinctly different disciplines even though those two body systems are so closely related.) Now Dr. Moquin tells us that he and others on his team, while in Germany and at Walter Reed Hospital, were working together. There is an organization state-side that is promoting this collaboration called One Spine. All of this can only be of major benefit to us patients.
I hope you will take a moment today — Veteran’s Day — or any other day you may find this blog post — to thank a veteran. Their work to protect our freedom is incredibly important, and today we’ve learned more about how that work reaps benefits in other ways, too.
Here’s the thanking I’m doing today: Among those veterans, I thank my husband Butch. Before I met him, he spent 20+ years in the Air Force, living all over the world, protecting those of us going about our business on American soil…. an unsung hero to most, but certainly one of the biggest heroes to me. AND my dad, Richard, who very proudly served in the Army Air Corp, in Japan, as World War II was coming to a close, my favorite among the members of the “greatest generation.”
By the way — you can listen to the interview with Dr. Moquin — it lasts about 24 minutes — I think you’ll enjoy it.
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