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National Day of Solidarity for Compassionate Patient Care

Human chain honors Giffords' doctor

A celebration at UA College of Medicine recognizes humanism in medicine

Over 100 people held hands at noon on Valentine's Day to honor the compassion shown by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' doctor at University Medical Center.

"It was inspired by the health care given by Dr. Randall Friese," said Stephanie Hartz, a fourth-year medical student and member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

The human chain, which took place at the Arizona Health Sciences Plaza at UMC, was part of a celebration for the first National Day of Solidarity for Compassionate Patient Care.

The chain also included a banner-sized photo of students at the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix. Participants were encouraged to take a moment and notice the people they were holding hands with. After the event participants were invited to share stories of humanism in medicine.

The idea for a human chain originated after a comment by Friese struck a chord with his colleagues. Giffords was admitted to the trauma center after being shot in the head on Jan. 8. Friese said that the most important thing he did was hold Gifford's hand.

 "I thought that was so cool," said Nancy Koff, senior associate dean for evaluation at the College of Medicine. Koff wrote to the head of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which then coordinated the event.

"I think humanism and compassion in medicine is very important," Dr. Friese said. "I was just doing what I do every day for everyone and it feels good to have it recognized in a small way," he added as colleagues and friends gathered around to congratulate him.

Giffords was shot through the head Jan. 8 in what authorities are calling an assassination attempt.

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Six were killed in the attack, and 13 others, including Giffords, were wounded. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, has been charged in the mass shooting.

Giffords was transferred last month to a Houston rehabilitation facility. All the others injured in the attack were released from the hospital.

Dozens of medical schools honored compassionate care Monday, according to a news release from the Gold Foundation, including Stanford University, the Ohio State University, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, George Washington University, University of Florida, University of Virginia, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston, and the University of Alberta (Canada).

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Angela Mullis/TucsonSentinel.com

Over 100 people gathered in the Arizona Health Sciences Plaza at UMC on Monday to create a human chain. The celebration was held to honor humanism and compassion in medicine.