Volunteering To Treat Victims
04/25/03
Staff Writer
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Last year Dr. Daniel Branovan, a Russian-born physician who serves as director of residency training at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, treated, for free, a teenager injured in a terrorist bombing in Haifa. Last month he donated his medical services to another victim of terrorism. Now he is encouraging his colleagues to do the same thing. Branovan, who came to the United States in 1980 and is president of the newly formed Association of Russian Speaking Medical Professionals, organized the first international conference of "Doctors Against Terrorism." Some 100 people attended the conference at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, including victims of terror attacks and their relatives, local politicians and about 50 physicians who volunteered to treat terrorism victims overseas or in the United States. A dozen countries (Israel and republics of the former Soviet Union) have expressed interest in having their wounded citizens treated by Branovan's nondenominational organization, he said. The participating physicians agreed on a definition of terrorism as "deliberate acts [of violence] against innocent women and children." "Terrorism erodes, at both the individual level and the community level, the sense of security and safety people usually feel," Branovan told the conference participants. "Deliberate violence creates longer-lasting health effects than natural disasters or accidents ... survivors often feel that injustice has been done to them. Doctors Against Terrorism aims to break this vicious cycle by surrounding the victims of terrorism with competent, caring professionals devoted to treating both their physical and psychological wounds." The conference established a database of interested medical professionals, starting with the 5,000 from the former Soviet Union who live in the metropolitan New York area. So far about 100 physicians, including some in other parts of the country, have agreed to take part in the project, and negotiations are under way with a few local hospitals that will treat patients without charge, Branovan said. He said Doctors Against Terrorism is designed to complement the work of physicians abroad. Israel's medical system, for example, is overburdened by the scores of terrorism victims who require expensive, continuing treatment each year, he said. "Despite the fact that they have an outstanding medical system, the sheer number of patients is tremendous," Branovan said. Initial treatment of terrorism injuries often concentrates on saving lives and limbs. "Many of the patients cannot have their ears repaired": his specialty, Branovan said. Doctors Against Terrorism is sponsored by his medical professionals group and by the World Congress of Russian Jewry's North American section. For information, contact Branovan at dbranovan@nyee.edu or Leonid Bard of the World Congress at (718) 615-2301. Craig Miller, project consultant at the Jewish Community Relations Council, which helped organize the conference, called it "an extraordinary success." "The participating doctors received a tremendous amount of information of all aspects of terrorism," said Miller, who served as a chaplain with victims of the 9-11 attacks in New York and led a "Healing the Spirit" panel at this week's conference. "The seeds were laid for a very strong, worldwide movement [that] will be expanded beyond the Russian-speaking community." Branovan's initial goal for Doctors Against Terrorism is to arrange for a team of physicians to go to Israel to treat "several hundred" people. This project might start with "a few months," Branovan said. And the terror victim he treated last week? The 18-year-old patient is recuperating before he goes back to Israel. "The surgery was uncomplicated and went well," Branovan said.

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10/26/2009 - 09:45

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