Runner Profile: BIDMC Trauma and Orthopedic Surgeons
Drs. Steve Odom, Alok Gupta, and Tamara Rozental
Running for the patients they cared for on April 15
When BIDMC surgeons Steve Odom, MD, Alok Gupta, MD, and Tamara Rozental, MD, get off the bus in Hopkinton next Monday, they’ll be in very good company. This year TeamBIDMC: Tread Strong has more Boston Marathon runners than ever before, 70 in total.
For these runners, and for so very many others, this Marathon represents a healing step, a way to pay respect to lives lost, to celebrate all who responded, and to defiantly take back a beloved and storied race.
“I’m a trauma surgeon in Boston and this is my sport, I run marathons, so it all feels very personal,” says Odom. “I’m running Boston to honor the victims of last year’s attacks, to honor the medical response to this tragedy and to represent a return to normalcy.”
Odom, Gupta and Rozental were among the hundreds of BIDMC employees who responded on April 15, 2013. That night, 14 of the 24 patients transported to BIDMC were operated on, and these patients had dozens more surgeries in the days, weeks and months that followed.
“I’m lucky to work as a trauma surgeon among some of the smartest, most talented, and most compassionate people I know,” says Gupta “The tide raised all the boats and allowed us to provide phenomenal care to each and every victim who arrived at our doors.”
Part of that care involved a new multidisciplinary mass casualty service devised by Gupta shortly after the patients were out of those first surgeries on Marathon Monday. The service took into account the extraordinary circumstances and needs that emerged from the day’s events.
“I knew the needs of these patients were separate and distinct from the patients on the trauma service who may have crashed their cars or been wounded by gunfire,” he says. “We assigned a separate team of providers to see all the victims again late that afternoon to decide the immediate next steps in their care.”
Gupta coordinated with medical center staff to group the Marathon bombing patients near one another to form a natural support system. And he arranged for multidisciplinary teams made up of trauma, orthopedic, plastic and vascular surgeons, as well as critically important support services like physical therapy, social work and pastoral care, to round on the patients twice daily.
With the entire team carefully moving from patient to patient, the caregivers provided a consistent presence, making sure each person felt safe and ensuring they got the care they needed with the fewest number of disruptions at a critical time in healing.
“These survivors taught me many lessons in perspective, optimism, strength, and forgiveness,” says Gupta. “They have left a permanent mark on me. I have become a better physician, husband, father, brother, and friend.”
For Rozental, who lives along the Marathon course near Heartbreak Hill, running had always been a time to let go and to think.
“After April 15, I found myself going on longer and longer runs in order to process everything that had happened,” she says.
Somewhere along the way, Rozental decided that running this year’s Boston Marathon was something she had to do.
“It is a form of solidarity with my patients. After what they’ve been through, getting up at 4 a.m. and running for three hours is really no big deal,” she says. “So, I’m running for them, for my colleagues who worked selflessly and for my two young daughters who will learn from these stories that strength and determination go a long way.”
TeamBIDMC|Tread Strong: the 2014 Boston Marathon Team
Funds donated on behalf of Steve Odom, MD, Alok Gupta, MD, and Tamara Rozental, MD, will benefit BIDMC’s Emergency Relief Fund, which supports both the immediate and longer-term mental and physical needs of patients, families, and caretakers impacted by devastating, life-altering events. These services include, but are not limited to, emergency medicine, orthopedics, physical therapy, social work, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness training.
To donate to Drs. Odom, Gupta, Rozental, or any BIDMC runner, visit bidmctreadstrong.org.
How Are You Doing?
Our colleagues in the Social Work Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery have worked with patients, family members and staff who have experienced trauma. They have created some resources that you may find helpful as we think about the Boston Marathon bombing anniversary.
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