Cristina Connections
Linking Life To Its Promise
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 VOL. 6
 ISSUE 8
by David Bruce McMahan, Chairman and co-founder
Publisher's Column
The Right Place at the Right Time

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David Bruce McMahan

Brian Swirsky, a New Haven CT cardiologist, had a vision on the evening of August 31, 2005; he told his wife he was thinking about going to New Orleans to help Hurricane Katrina victims. That night Swirsky and his developer friend Henry Criscuolo decided they would put together a team of six doctors and Criscuolo and fly to Biloxi, Mississippi, where people were stranded in urgent need of medical care.

Physicians just prior to takeoff for Mississippi.

The team consisted of orthopedic surgeon Jack Irving, plastic surgeon Zeno Chicarilli, pulmonary critical care expert Kevin Twohig, internist Renzo Renzi (of Florida), pediatrician Jim Morgan, and chiropractor Jim Cianciolo. Criscuolo, who is a retired developer with experience in shipping, was in charge of transporting supplies and the medical experts. People of New Haven had contributed to the trip by donating medical supplies, and food for the duration of the trip, plus water and food for victims. The private jet was provided by the Argent Funds Group, who stripped the plane of non-essentials so that it could carry a maximum of supplies in addition to the physicians.

They showed up in Gulfport, Mississippi with no plan, just our plane full of medical supplies. They went into remote communities. Seven doctors piled into one ambulance, so the locals started calling them "docs in a box".

Now they're home with stories they will never forget.  Upon returning Dr. Brian Swirsky said, "We're physically here. Our bodies are here. I know, and it's a week later, my mind, my spirit, is still down in Mississippi." That part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast where Hurricane Katrina actually came ashore. An ambulance crew from Missouri drove them around and a local Red Cross volunteer told them where to go. Dr. Zeno Chicarilli, plastic surgeon, said, "We followed her leads, we scoped out each area on our own, we delivered what care we could."

Doctors working in back of semi-truck,
Esf-8 on the back of the shirts.

The idea was to take some of the pressure off local medical personnel. Criscuolo says, "Young mothers going through piles of clothing trying to find shoes for their children, clothing for them." Dr. Jim Morgan says, "Even though I know that we did a lot of things there to help people, I just came away feeling that I just want to do more." Dr. Swirsky says, "The combination of the physical destruction, which was easy to see, but the emotional destruction, as we met people and talked to people was even more impressive.” Both kinds will take a long time to heal and all of those doctors say if they got another chance to go there and help - they would take it in a second. “We knew we were in the right place at the right time.”

The next edition of the National Cristina Foundations’s on-line magazine, ‘Cristina Connections,’ recounts the many involvements NCF as an organization has had with Katrina survivors. It is indeed a case of ‘Re-Linking Life to its Promise.’

David Bruce McMahan, Chairman and Co-Founder, National Cristina Foundation,
CEO, McMahan Securities and Argent Funds Group

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