Friday, September 3, 2010


My favorite yoga teacher once commented, “Attitude isn’t just an important thing. It’s the only thing.”

The Sept. 2 NY Times “Well Blog” offers a great example ( ) with an interview with Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious-disease specialist who worked at Charity Hospital, New Orleans, when Hurricane Katrina hit.

After the levees broke, the place was hell on earth. As electricity failed and supplies dwindled, the attenuated medical staff had to improvise care constantly. When their resources and hope began to fade, they buoyed themselves with this principle: We may not be able to control what is happening to us, but we can control how we treat each other.

They articulated that attitude aloud over and over, promising that they wouldn’t leave until every one of their patients was safe. Their attitude was tested when they witnessed helicopters evacuate insured patients at Tulane University’s hospital, but no helicopters appeared at Charity, a public hospital where few patients have medical insurance.

Dr. Berggren and her team were finally rescued six days later, but only after all their patients had been evacuated first. Not a single patient died.

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