This weekend, we lost a beloved member of our Health System family when Dr. Steven Gradwohl, a member of our Medical School faculty since 1994, was killed in an automobile crash on Interstate 94. I know too well the shock of such a tragic loss and my deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. He will be greatly missed and always remembered. Dr. Gradwohl’s obituary can be found here.
Dear Health System Community,
In February 2012, the University of Michigan Board of Regents called for an extensive investigation and review of the delay in reporting suspected possession of child pornography by a former U-M resident. Today, at their October meeting, the Board of Regents instituted significant changes to improve how we handle safety and security at the University of Michigan, including at our Health System. I encourage you to read the memo from the Regents and related information, which can be found here.
In my message to our UMHS community last January, I acknowledged this delay in reporting as a painful moment in our history and that, moving forward, we will do better. The actions outlined by our Board of Regents are necessary steps to help us do better and to facilitate our movement forward. I would like to thank the Board, the consultants and the many faculty, staff and leaders who have been involved in this difficult, yet critical, effort. Your honesty and clear commitment to improve are resounding evidence that we will succeed in making our University and our Health System safer, especially for our patients, whose safety is our highest priority.
It is incumbent upon all of us in the Health System community to be engaged partners in this ongoing effort. We all have a responsibility to take action when we see something that is wrong. Even though it isn’t always easy to speak up, it is always the right thing to do. And doing the right thing is, as President Coleman has said, the Michigan way.
This morning, I was privileged to participate in a ceremony honoring the service and memory of six heroes who lost their lives five years ago today.
On that day – June 4, 2007 – I was still in Indiana, but I remember hearing the news about the University of Michigan transplant and Survival Flight team that didn’t make it home from their life-saving journey across Lake Michigan. I felt a special connection to the story not only because I am a physician, but because my late husband, Mark, was a transplant surgeon. He and his team – as well as transplant and medical aircraft teams across the nation – mourned with Michigan on that tragic day.
Five years ago, the UMHS community came together in grief, sadness and disbelief. Today, we came together once again to remember and honor six extraordinary men whose legacies inspire us each and every day.
David Ashburn, Richard Chenault, Dennis Hoyes, Ricky LaPensee, Bill Serra and Martin Spoor will never be forgotten – they will forever remain in our thoughts and in our hearts. We will think of them when we look at the memorial art piece that was commissioned in their honor and now stands at the front of University Hospital. We remember them through the six endowments the University created in their honor. And we think of them with each life saved by an organ transplant.
Having since suffered a devastating loss myself – the death of my husband, Mark, more than a year ago – I understand the shattering effect tragedy can have on one’s life and one’s family. That’s why I want all of the family members to know that your extended Health System family continues to be here for you whenever you need us.
And to those of you who lost beloved colleagues on that heartbreaking June day, remember that through your work, you keep their extraordinary legacies alive and strong.
We can never replace loved ones who die too soon, but we can live each day after in tribute to them, and to the immense love and joy they brought to so many others.