On May 8, 2018, Paul Biddinger, MD, and Wendy Macías-Konstantopoulos, MD, MPH, were celebrated as the inaugural incumbents of the MGH Endowed Chair in Emergency Preparedness and the MGH Endowed Scholar for Leadership in Emergency Medicine respectively. The celebration took place at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care.
The endowed positions, which are among the top honors to be awarded to Mass General faculty, were made possible in part by funds raised by the Mass General Emergency Response Marathon Team.
John Hancock, one of Mass General’s largest corporate partners, has generously donated marathon entries to the Mass General Boston Marathon Program, empowering runners to raise $15.5 million over the past 21 years for pediatric cancer programs and emergency response efforts. The Mass General Emergency Response Marathon Team was established after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, and John Hancock allotted additional entries to raise funds for emergency care, disaster relief and preparedness training.
Marathon as Force for Good
This April marked the fifth-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, underscoring the necessity of emergency preparedness. Mass General treated 35 victims of the bombing, all of whom survived.
“It wasn’t just a miracle that they survived,” said Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of Mass General. “Everyone knew what to do because of extensive training and preparation. And the dollars raised from the marathon for training and preparation make that readiness possible.”
Tom Crohan, John Hancock’s assistant vice president and counsel, Corporate Responsibility and Government Relations, directs the company’s philanthropic giving programs. “I’m amazed by how powerful the marathon is as a force for good,” he said. “Since 1998, more than $15 million has been raised for this institution. We are really proud that Emergency Medicine and Emergency Preparedness are now recipients.”
Prepared for Anything that Happens
Dr. Biddinger, inaugural incumbent of the MGH Endowed Chair in Emergency Preparedness, joined the Mass General faculty in 2002, shortly after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He said that day changed how he viewed emergency care and disaster medicine.
Today, Dr. Biddinger serves as director of the Center for Disaster Medicine and vice chair for Emergency Preparedness for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mass General. In addition to helping to respond to the 2013 bombing, he has overseen emergency efforts for catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.
“After Hurricane Katrina, I saw errors that made me think twice,” Dr. Biddinger said. “With Dr. Slavin’s support for Emergency Medicine and Dr. David Brown’s support for disaster preparedness, we thought about issues like Ebola and terrorism to make the hospital more prepared.”
“Paul has done an outstanding job preparing us for anything that happens, whether it’s natural or manmade,” Dr. Slavin said.
Caring for Our Most Vulnerable
Dr. Macías-Konstantopoulos, inaugural incumbent of the MGH Endowed Scholar for Leadership in Emergency Medicine, joined the Mass General faculty in 2007. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Macías-Konstantopoulos is also co-founding director of the Mass General Human Trafficking Initiative, and founding medical and executive director of the Mass General Freedom Clinic. The innovative healthcare clinic for human trafficking survivors won the 2014 Partnership for Freedom national competition.
Dr. Slavin said, “Like Paul, Wendy is a quadruple threat — a compassionate physician, an advocacy leader, a dedicated researcher and an inspiring educator.”
Dr. Macías-Konstantopoulos praised Mass General’s dedication to less traditional areas of medicine. “With crises around human trafficking,” she said, “we need to think about health outcomes and areas of medicine that have been disenfranchised.”
“I think this area is a natural fit in MGH’s mission,” Dr. Macías-Konstantopoulos added. “To care for the least powerful among us.”
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