Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Massachusetts District Branch, APA Respond to Boston Tragedy

APA President Dilip Jeste, M.D., contacted the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society (MPS) today, offering APA’s sympathies and assistance in the wake of the bombing of the Boston Marathon. “We know our colleagues may be called upon to deal with the mental health consequences that may arise from this traumatic event, and we are confident they will meet this challenge,” wrote Jeste to the MPS’s president and executive director. “There is no doubt that, as we have done so many times in the past, we all will emerge from this horrific event with a renewed sense of unity, resilience, and strength.” Jeste said APA's Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters, chaired by Robert Ursano, M.D., and the Office of International Activities are involved in the district branch’s response to the tragedy.

Todd Holzman, M.D., MPS’s disaster liaison, told Psychiatric News that the district branch is coordinating support and relief efforts with the Red Cross and has asked MPS members to let the DB know of their availability as volunteers. He said psychiatrists were also being asked to let MPS know whether they had any institutional or practice needs for which the MPS can offer support and expertise. The MPS has been working with APA’s Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters and other APA members who are expert in disaster-related issues to gather information for posting on its Web site.

Luckily, the MPS had held a training program last spring on disaster response, and about 60 psychiatrists and mental health professionals were certified by the Red Cross, said Holzman, “Even though the Boston area is known as a rich and sophisticated area—with many outstanding academic and medical institutions—it doesn’t reduce suffering or the need for a strong psychiatric response to help the many people in our city who are affected by yesterday’s events,” said Holzman. "I want everyone to know that we are grateful for the offerings of help and support from APA and our friends and colleagues throughout the country. They have given us an emotional hug.”

One of the sources of information the MPS is using is American Psychiatric Publishing's Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment by Frederick J. Stoddard Jr., M.D., Anand Pandya, M.D., and Craig L. Katz, M.D. Stoddard, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard and on the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital, is among those providing assistance in the Boston area.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)


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