When a tragedy occurs worlds away, we can be very objective. When it happens close to home it becomes personal. Such was the shooting in Tulsa this week.
Our daughter, Rhonda, has a rare disease which depletes minerals in her body. In order to maintain a balance she must take massive amounts of meds and supplements. Even then, she must occasionally be infused with iron and magnesium. Yesterday, at 3:30 I dropped her, along with my wife Rita, at St Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Since the procedure was to take several hours, I drove home to Broken Arrow to wait for Rita to call when they were ready to come home.
After feeding the dog, pouring a soda, and grabbing a bag of chips, I turned on the television and saw the special news bulletin from, where else but, St Francis Hospital. Literally dozens of police and rescue vehicles filled Yale Avenue at 65th street. The on-scene reporter described an active shooter situation going down in the Natale Building.
My first concern was for the safety of Rita and Rhonda in the infusion center which was in the hospitals outpatient department in the main hospital. The Natale building is on the hospital’s campus but houses doctors offices and clinics. My back doctor and the orthopedic clinic was there on the second floor.
As I watched TV, I was sure that Rita and Rhonda were far enough away that they were safe from the shooter, but being of a practical mind, began to wonder if or how I was to pick them up when they were ready to come home. As I picked up my phone to call them I noticed a text from Rita saying she had been trying to call me and she was worried about me. I dialed her number and the call did not go through, so I texted her back to call me back. While I was trying for the fifth time to get through to her, my phone rang and Rita started berating me for not answering her earlier calls. In emergencies phone service becomes erratic as the networks become overloaded.
Rhonda’s infusion procedure was cut back and she was released early, I assume because of the shooting incident, and I was able to get to the hospital through a different route coming in the back way.
At home watching the wall to wall coverage of the event I began to worry about my doctor. One of the reporters had heard a rumor that the shooter was after a certain doctor.
Today, the Tulsa police chief released the names of the victims which included Dr. Preston Phillips, my back doctor. I spent over two years as his patient and attest to the fact that he was not only a top clinician and surgeon, but he was also one of the finest gentlemen I have known in medicine. He was always thorough and never seemed to be rushed while dealing with me. The hospital CPO stated that Dr Phillips was allowed to “go off the clock” in tending to his patients.
I do not have any words of wisdom to offer our elected officials. I do not want to share my personal beliefs about why we have so many mass shootings in this country. There are many factors that all contribute. Focusing on only one factor is a recipe for failure. There is no simple answer, but there is an answer, and it means taking a serious analysis of all the contributing factors.
Earlier in other posts I have noted that once a problem is defined, the solution is easy.
The problem of violence has not been adequately defined. Yet!