AAMC Honors Miller School’s Service in Haiti

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine received national recognition for its outstanding contributions to academic medicine and the global community from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) during an awards ceremony at the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

The medical school received a “Special Award of Exceptional Service” for its unprecedented relief effort following the earthquake in Haiti on January 12. In presenting the award, the AAMC said, “The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine laid the foundation for what would become one of the most successful post-disaster emergency medical responses ever mounted by a university.”

Robert Hernandez, M.D., senior associate dean for medical student administration and chair of the AAMC’s Southern Group on Student Affairs, accepted the award at the weekend event. “It is a privilege and honor to accept this award on behalf of the Miller School faculty physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel and staff who came to the aid of the people of Haiti,” Hernandez said.

Spearheaded by Barth A. Green, M.D., professor and chair of neurological surgery, the Miller School of Medicine sent the first outside medical team to reach the capital of Port-au-Prince immediately after the earthquake and, eight days later, opened a 240-bed critical care field hospital in four large tents at the edge of the airport.

“The Miller School is grateful to the leadership of the AAMC for recognizing our humanitarian effort in Haiti in this special way,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth-University of Miami Health System. “We share this award with the hundreds of Miller School and Jackson Memorial Hospital volunteers, along with others from around the world, who traveled to Haiti, as well as those who stayed in Miami to support the relief effort and continue to serve our patients, advance our research, and provide outstanding education. We also share it with those who opened their hearts and their checkbooks.”

The Miller School also received recognition at the award ceremony as one of two finalists, along with Massachusetts General Hospital, for the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service. This year, Tulane University School of Medicine won the award for its work following Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

“I have always believed that helping your fellow man is not just a responsibility, it is a privilege,” Green said. “The people of Haiti have needed our help for many years, but never more so than following the earthquake in January. To lead the medical team that was first on the ground and to have a continuing and life-changing presence in the country is what we should be most proud of as caregivers. It is great to be recognized by the AAMC for those efforts. Hopefully this award will remind people that we still have a lot of work to do for our neighbors in Haiti.”

The AAMC represents all 133 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 62 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies.

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