On twitter this morning at around 9am eastern time, I was disheartened by the tweet by @dockj at the Family Medicine Program Directors Workshop: "Stunning gasps at announcement of sudden passing of Dr Barbara Starfield." I hadn't heard anything about this either. So, I did a quick search to find a statement from Dr. Rich Roberts from June 12th - a portion of which stated the following:
The news of the sudden death of Professor Barbara Starfield, apparently due to a coronary event while swimming at her California home on Friday, 10 June 2011, came as a shock. Her passing is an irreplaceable loss for those of us in the global community who care deeply about health care and equity.
I never met Dr. Starfield, but it was always a professional goal of mine to try to run into her at one of these Family Medicine meetings to try to gain some wisdom from her. I was able to find the video above of her speaking and accepting a lifetime achievement award. She seemed like an amazing woman and undoubtedly a friend and advocate of Family Medicine and primary care.
Now, those of you from twitter who were baited by my tagline "Why the Family Medicine community should be ashamed of itself." What do I mean by that? Well, it was only through social media - specifically twitter - where I learned of this news. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, various google searches revealed short blurbs from Johns Hopkins, Health Equity, Medical Humanities blog, and the Arizona Academy of Family Physicians.
Then, at approximately 5pm eastern time today, the first substantive article was released by the Health Affairs blog. This is a very well written article and I recommend people check it out. In addition, they are making available free access until June 28, the articles she authored and co-authored.
Health Affairs extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Dr. Starfield. To help honor Dr. Starfield’s career, Health Affairs is providing free access until June 28 to the full texts of the articles she has authored and coauthored in the journal...
But, for the entire day, I'm looking for an extensive article from one of the major Family Medicine organization - like the American Academy of Family Physicians or Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (she was beloved in the academic and research world, right?). Even scanning the major Family Medicine blogs - nothing. I mean people are more than happy to blog about legislative issues like leaving the RUC, or health care reform, or partnering with companies like Coca-Cola. But to be silent on the passing of one of the friends of Family Medicine? That really bothers me.
I'll be ranting more about this on my podcast on Tuesday night. But, I'm really hoping by then that the Family Medicine community and its social media supporters - I hope that they recognize, pay tribute, or at least even mention, the passing of Dr. Starfield who gave this specialty a voice. Hopefully we will not forget her with our silence....