Remarks by Dr. Peter Burke at the BMC Strong Flag Raising Ceremony


Dear friends, we are gathered here today on the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing to remember and give voice to a number of things;  among them to the reality that there is evil in the world we live in and in that acknowledgment we stand in balance against it .  And to the fact that some among us have paid a terrible price to the events of April the 15th. We honor them, we will not forget their unasked for sacrifice.

I am proud to count myself as part of the BMC community that responded so magnificently. From those at the scene, our partners Boston EMS who did such an outstanding job, to every member of the BMC family from administrators to transporters, nurses, doctors, lab techs and scrub techs, pastoral care, patient advocates, social workers and security to name but a few who, to a person, responded without hesitation bringing all of their collective talents and experience to focus on the injured. And we did well! With skill and hard work and the overwhelming courage and tenacity of our patients, everyone survived (it was a near thing for some) and made it to the next step with the spirit to continue on. We should be proud. That day and during the following weeks we truly provided exceptional care. 

But we at BMC more than others see on a daily basis victims of violence, lives and families forever altered and we better than most understand the true human cost of violence to our society. If you are unaware of this cost or of the exceptional commitment of this institution to help, go talk to Project Assert in the ER or the trauma service’s community violence response team. I assure you, you will be impressed and prouder of where you work.

While we have always strive to provide exceptional care, our response to the bombing revealed to me a new standard of what exceptional care can mean. Going forward we must strive for this new standard for all our patients. The good that we can do going forward will help the balance in some small way and perhaps give some meaning to that unasked for sacrifice. It is a great honor to work here with all of you and I thank you for the privilege.

 - Peter Burke, MD, FACS, Chief of Trauma Surgery 

2014 National Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

No Text


April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Massachusetts state and local police departments will voluntarily join a nationwide high-visibility enforcement blitz in a concerted effort to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Law enforcement personnel across the United States will be cracking down on motorists who text and drive April 10th through April 15th.   

“Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving,” said Chief Kevin Coppinger of the Lynn Police Department, and added, “all distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.”  These types of distractions include: texting, using a cellphone, eating and drinking, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, watching a video and adjusting a radio, CD or other audio players.  Text messaging is by far the most dangerous activity because it diverts the driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention away from the road.

According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nationwide in 2012, more than 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers, and approximately 421,000 people were injured.

Massachusetts law makes it illegal for any operator of a motor vehicle to use a mobile telephone, or any handheld device capable of accessing the internet, to manually compose, send or read an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle. Fines start at $100 and can be as high as $500 for subsequent offenses.  Drivers under the age of eighteen are also subject to license or permit suspension for up to one year.

 “All motorists need to know that Massachusetts is serious about stopping this deadly behavior. Driving and texting has reached epidemic levels, and enforcing the law is part of the cure,” said Massachusetts State Police Superintendent, Colonel Timothy Alben. 

Courtesy of  Commonwealth Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Released 4/7/2014, Contact:  Art Kinsman 617-725-3307

ACP Recommends Physicians Take Steps to Reduce Gun Violence

By Kelly Young/NEJM Journal Watch

The American College of Physicians recommends counseling patients on the risks of keeping firearms in their homes, especially when minors or people with dementia, mental illness, or substance use disorders live there.

In a new position paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the group says that physicians should also counsel patients on the best practices to reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths.

The ACP also supports regulating the purchase of firearms to reduce injuries and deaths, including universal background checks, waiting periods, and banning assault weapons.

Asked to comment, Katherine Bakes, an associate editor of NEJM Journal Watch Emergency Medicine, wrote: “Since physicians see the devastation firsthand, I believe we are obligated to be more outspoken and uncompromising against guns.”

Courtesy of

Click here to access paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine

Mayor Walsh and Boston Medical Center Launch “Prescribe-a-Bike” Subsidized Hubway Membership Program

hubway image

By  | Hub Health| March 26, 2014 6:29 pm

Doctors in Boston are already prescribing “outdoor time” for kids, and starting Wednesday, physicians at Boston Medical Center will be prescribing Hubway bikes as a means of transportation.

On Wednesday, the City of Boston and the Boston Medical Center (BMC) announced the launch of “Prescribe-a-Bike,” a new partnership to increase access to affordable transportation for low-income Boston residents, and improve health at the same time. “There is no other program like this in the country,” says Mayor Marty Walsh. “Prescribe-a-Bike makes the link between health and transportation, and ensures that more residents can access the Hubway bike share system.”

Nicole Freedman, director of bicycle programs for the City of Boston, says that they hope to enroll 1,000 low-income residents in the subsidized Hubway membership program this year. She also says that other hospitals are interested in joining the program as well. “We have already received some calls from other hospitals and health clinics who are interested,” Freedman says. “It’s a new way to reach out and promote health.”

The bike program is for all Boston residents , and the new program is a way for the Hubway to expand its “family.” Freedman says that 13 of the city’s 90 stations are in “low income” neighborhoods. “What we know is that there’s been an incredible uptick in our subsidized membership program,” she says.

Click here to read full article

Courtesy of Boston Magazine.

Boston Medical Center’s daily marathon: Major tragedies get attention, but lives are saved every day without fanfare

Boston Medical Center personnel waited outside the emergency room for more Marathon bombing victims to arrive.

Boston Medical Center personnel waited outside the emergency room for more Marathon bombing victims to arrive. Photo courtesy: Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File 2013

By Joanna Weiss | GLOBE COLUMNIST   APRIL 05, 2014

THE STAFF at Boston Medical Center is steeling itself for remembrances.

This month will be filled, as it should be, with events to mark the Boston Marathon bombing: tributes to resiliency and lives rebuilt, to the actions of first responders and the generosity of strangers. BMC, like other local hospitals, shares in the history and the emotion.

But another idea has been percolating in the hospital hallways, tempering the pride, dampening the celebrations. It’s hard to come to terms, as one doctor says, with the fact that, on a typical day, “there is no outpouring like this.”

This happens, without intention or ill will, whenever there’s a newsworthy disaster. A plane crash is an international event; a car crash is a private tragedy. An act of terrorism, ghastly and unexpected, overshadows the horror of day-to-day violence.

 But the contrast is especially acute in a place like BMC, New England’s largest trauma center, where many patients aren’t strangers to what Dr. Andrew Ulrich, vice chair of emergency medicine, calls “intended violence.” About 1,000 patients with gunshot and stab wounds are treated in the Emergency Department every year. The day after the Marathon bombing, four people were brought to BMC with gunshot wounds.

I sat down recently with Ulrich and other hospital workers — a surgical intensive care nurse, a social worker, the head of patient advocacy — to talk about what happened on the week of April 15, 2013, when 19 bombing victims were admitted, 10 of them critical.

They remembered the day with pride: how their crisis-response training paid off; how everyone on staff contributed, down to the crew that worked at breakneck speed to clean medical equipment. Patients rallied, too; people who had come for rehab and detox offered to give up their beds for bombing victims.

Still, it was hard not to notice the attention and support that was showered on Marathon victims and their families, the accolades that poured in for the medical staff, at a volume and intensity that BMC usually doesn’t see. People donated wheelchairs and private planes so that loved ones could fly to and from Boston. Pizzas arrived from a hospital in Texas. Edible fruit arrangements appeared, followed by more of them. Celebrities roamed the halls: Actors, singers, Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins players. At one point, Elizabeth Warren’s entourage bumped into Bradley Cooper’s entourage.

Click here to read full article

Courtesy of Boston Globe.