Katrina And Medical Aid

Gilbert E. D’Alonzo, Editor
The D.O. Magazine
American Osteopathic Association
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2864
RE: Another D.O.’s Katrina Experience


Dear Dr. Alonzo

I have read with pride and enthusiasm the heroic and thoughtful contributions our profession has made to the Katrina tragedy. I commend all those involved for their heroism and selflessness. Our government has obviously failed us in so many ways that it was mainly through people’s philanthropies that many additional tragedies were avoided.

I, too, had an experience with our State government and Katrina victims that I wish to share with the readership. About 900 Hurricane Katrina victims were brought to Phoenix, Arizona and housed in our Veterans Memorial Coliseum. I wanted to go down to help but was told that the area was restricted and guarded and that one needed a special permit to enter the area.

Eventually, I was directed to a website where I signed up. I typed in my D.O. credentials and wrote a note about how best I could help. I wrote that I do not do acute care. As a Board Certified Specialist in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, I could best help patients who developed musculoskeletal problems from that traumatic experience.

The very next day, I received an email inviting me to come to the Coliseum to serve meals. Two days later, another email arrived inviting me to donate to the Red Cross.

As I have always believed in the therapeutic and physiological benefits of laughter, I shared this misadventure with my friends and patients. Sadly, the story surprised no one.

Little did I realize, however, the honor this offer bestowed. As I shared again this story with one patient, he explained what I had missed and its significance.

You see, he had been volunteering at a local soup kitchen for several years. He carefully explained to me the soup kitchen hierarchy:

He had always been in food preparation and looked forward to the day when he would be moved up to serving food.

Thus, the State’s offer to immediately assign me to food service, was a compliment to my medical training and specialty credentials. They leapfrogged me over the established kitchen hierarchy right to the top.

Seen in this new light, I have changed my attitude about this entire experience. I now hold my head up high with pride knowing that, by placing me in food service, the Arizona Disaster Relief Programs recognized my D.O. credentials and accorded them the respect and honor they thought they deserved.