by Dr. Chad Audi
As we celebrate Black History Month, our minds turn to the African-American men and women who have enriched all of our lives with their accomplishments and contributions.
They include the well-known — like Rosa Parks, Booker T. Washington, Sojourner Truth, and George Washington Carver — and the lesser known.
Dr. Charles F. Whitten falls in the latter category. You may not know his name, but here in Detroit he was responsible for launching the successful careers of 400 minority doctors. Dr. Whitten created the Post Baccalaureate Program at Wayne State University (WSU) for minority students who had been denied admission to medical school based on their prior academic performance. After successfully completing the intensive one-year program, the students are guaranteed admission to WSU’s School of Medicine.
In addition, Dr. Whitten was largely responsible for bringing sickle cell disease to the attention of the public, healthcare providers, legislators and policymakers. He established the Sickle Cell Detection & Information Center in Detroit in 1971 — the first facility of its kind in the country.
Although we lost Dr. Whitten in 2008, he will forever be remembered as an African-American trailblazer for his groundbreaking work in the research and treatment of sickle cell disease and his commitment to increasing diversity in the medical profession. He truly made a difference in the lives of many people.
Today, many of those physicians of color who received their start because of Dr. Whitten’s foresight spend time giving back to others less fortunate. They know better than anyone what happens when an individual is denied access to opportunities. So, they have dedicated their lives to helping others — following in the footsteps of the man who helped them: Dr. Charles Whitten.
That’s truly a great story for the history books.
by Dr. Chad Audi
Winter is making history. Record-breaking snow and subzero temperatures and wind chills are affecting much of the country, including the South.
All of us who have been caught in the grip of the wintry weather know how uncomfortable the biting cold feels. Your fingers and toes can begin to freeze in a matter of minutes. Most of us are able to retreat into a heated house and warm up before the onset of frostbite or hypothermia. But for those with nowhere to live, these wintry conditions are extremely dangerous and can be life threatening. Imagine the plight of our nation’s homeless. It’s unimaginable to think of living outside and sleeping in this weather, isn’t it?
Organizations like ours — the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) — give the homeless refuge from the snow and subzero temperatures. We do not turn anyone anyway at DRMM. The beds in our emergency shelters have been filled to capacity several times already this winter. So we provide chairs and place mattresses on the floor to accommodate the overflow. Just being in warm surroundings and eating a hot meal make a world of a difference to the homeless.
During this cold weather, we keep our doors open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also allow our homeless clients to remain in our emergency shelters for a longer period if the temperature is below 32 degrees. We also use this as an opportunity to extend additional help to those who have come to our door. Our case managers talk with our clients and try to determine the root cause of their homelessness. We offer them a chance to get medical treatment, counseling and transitional housing.
Unfortunately, the chronic homeless usually don’t take advantage of our assistance. However, we remain hopeful and inspired by the many lives that we are able to save and transform.
As you sit in your warm house looking out of the window at the snow and listening to the howling winds, remember those who are trying to brave the elements. Support your local shelters with donations such as coats, blankets, food, and money so that we can help the homeless survive this extremely harsh winter.
Dr. Chad Audi