How the Oklahoma City bombing changed 4 women’s lives

Twenty three year old Madison Naylor was among the infants being cared for at the YMCA daycare located next door to the federal building at the time the bomb exploded. The building was heavily damaged but she and the other children survived.

April 19, 2019 marked the 24th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is the capital of my home state and was my home for 7 years while I attended medical school and completed my residency in Family Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

From the bombing, 168 people died, hundreds were injured, and our state and our nation were changed forever. Never had there been such an act of horror and carnage on U.S. soil.

I’ve written here about the bombing and showed you pictures from the site which is now a memorial and museum. I’m doing that again but this time with news about 4 women who have turned the event into something positive.


a past survivor, now a future doctor

Twenty three year old Madison Naylor was among the infants being cared for at the YMCA daycare located next door to the federal building at the time the bomb exploded. The building was heavily damaged but she and the other children survived.

“I remember when I was very young, I had a feeling that I had been really close to death, …I hope I can be something good that came from something so horrific.”

Madison Naylor, bombing survivor
some of the memorials hung on the the fence that surrounded the bombing site have been left intact.

Madison grew up learning about the bombing and about medicine. Her father and aunt are both physicians, and now she is a first-year medical student at my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

“I know the bombing is still a part of people’s lives here. It’s humbling to be associated with such a tragic event. I hope that I can be a positive face going forward.”

Madison Naylor, medical student
The SURVIVOR TREE remained standing when everything around it was destroyed by the bomb. It survives to this day.

“I just want to be the kind of person who leaves the world a better place than I found it.”

Madison Naylor, MS1

The bombing changed not only Oklahoma City, but also our state, and our entire country. It was the worst terrorist event on U.S. soil until 9/11. All of us were touched in some way, but especially 3 women who worked in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“None of us was thinking about studying disasters…But we kept studying …the Oklahoma City survivors over the years..Then started helping with disasters elsewhere.”

Betty Pfefferbaum, M.D., J.D. department chairman
This window in the museum overlooks the memorial.

Dr. Pfefferbaum, along with colleagues Phebe Tucker, M.D., and Sandra Allen, Ph.D. treated and studied trauma victims from the bombing and shared their findings with other doctors who use it to treat survivors around the world.

Lessons learned from the OKC disaster trauma

  • Disasters affect many different groups of people beyond those at the site-family, first responders, the community
  • Terrorism victims have higher than average rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression than people who never experienced it.
  • Some people develop a biological response to disaster causing a higher resting heart rate than those not affected.

Dr. Allen developed an intervention to help children of trauma process their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes children think they have to hide their feelings or act out when they hare hurting. This program helps them process those feelings and learn how to cope. You can read the details of this program at this link-

Listen to the Children

At a church across the street from the memorial

The work has rippled out into the world in ways that none of them could have imagined…

OU Medicine magazine
Words written on the wall of the former Journal Record Building which sat across from the federal building. These words, painted by a rescue team who searched for survivors that day,remain as a silent witness of the horrible event.

photos in this post taken by Dr. Aletha in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thanks to OU Magazine and KFOR for sharing these stories.

sharing the HEART of health

Dr Aletha

lemons into lemonade

I am delighted that Janice Wald, author and blogger at Mostly Bloggging, called this her “favorite post ” when I submitted it at her Inspire Me Monday Linky Party. Please visit Janice’s blog where you can learn about writing, blogging, productivity, marketing, and more.

It isn’t often that I see news-related posts left here and even rarer that, when I do, they are so inspirational. The post really exemplifies the expression, “Turn lemons into lemonade.”

Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging

Doctors don’t always make money-find out why

But physicians don’t always get paid. Health care is never “free”. Even in countries with socialized medicine or universal health care, someone pays for health care, it just may not be the recipient of that care.
Doctors in the United States give away their services in different ways. One is care that could be but is not reimbursed, either because it’s not a covered benefit under one’s insurance plan, is denied by insurance for some, usually unexplainable reason, or failure of the patient to pay their cost share, aka bad debt.
But many physicians voluntarily give away their services, or work for far less than they could be paid. According to another Medscape survey on physician lifestyle, a large percentage of physicians do so.
Medscape Physician Lifestyle Survey 
(The report focuses on burn-out, which I’m  not going to address in this post. )
Among the  20,000 physicians polled, 72% of the non burn-out doctors volunteer. Even among the burned out group, 63% still volunteer.
The top volunteer activities were 
    work with a religious organization
    work associated with school
    pro-bono local clinical work 

Dr Chorley with Patient
treating patients in a rural clinic in Zanzibar

next frequent were  tutoring and/or counseling, foundation work, and international mission/work.
Other activities noted were
animal rescue, medical response to disasters, work with homeless, and medical military reserves. 

doctors in an operating room
American surgeons operating in an Ecuadorian hospital

(The report did not specify whether or not any of these activities were compensated.)
When physicians choose to work for charitable or humanitarian type organizations, they usually make far less  money than they would in private practice. Especially with faith based organizations, the doctor may have to raise support through donations from family, friends or churches.
When a doctor takes time away from practice to volunteer, there is a loss of income if that income is based on productivity. Expenses associated with volunteering is often tax deductible to some extent, but lost income is not.
Volunteer medical teams include other health professionals, including dentists, nurses, pharmacists, optometrists, as well as non-medically trained people who come along to help in any way they can. Volunteer medical teams may provide medical and surgical treatment of conditions ranging from minor to life threatening. Some focus on health education and/or training of healthcare professionals. Some organizations focus on delivering medical supplies and equipment.
Everywhere I have travelled on volunteer medical teams, the people we treat respect and admire American physicians and appreciate the care we provide-sometimes more than people here at home do. I  go to help them, but usually come home feeling that I received more than I gave.

doctor with patient
with a medical team working in VietNam

These are some of the organizations I know, there are many others.
HealthCare Ministries
Global Health Relief
Heart to Heart
World Medical Mission
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