NEW YORK – On March 3, at Lenox Hill Hospital, the Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMSNY), at the initiative of Dr. Spyros Mezitis, former President of HMSNY and a founding president of the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America, and Dr. Frank Chervenak, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lenox Hill Hospital and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Zucker School of Medicine/Northwell, has taken on a high-profile cultural and national project that has laid the groundwork for rescuing the Hippocratic Oath, which is currently under threat.
The initiative was welcomed by the HMSNY President Dr. Panagiotis Manolas, who told The National Herald, “For the first time, an event is being established by the HMSNY, which through its efforts to preserve the Hippocratic Oath, will honor every year a leading Greek physician for his work. The first to be selected is Dr. Apostolos Athanasiadis, Professor of Obstetric Gynecology and Embryology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Director of the Third Obstetric Gynecology Clinic, known internationally for taking care of high-risk pregnancies.
“The Hippocratic Oath will be read in Ancient Greek by Dr. George Tsioulias and in English by Dr. Stella Lymberis and all the doctors present will be sworn in, because in this way we want to continue the tradition since lately some medical schools around the world are taking the oath of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, commonly known as Maimonides, (1135-1204). The oath of the rabbi does not include the ethics and morality of practicing medicine as determined by Hippocrates.”
We note that the Hippocratic Oath has been abandoned in many schools in the United States since 1870, and has undergone changes many times, and by far too many countries and organizations with the most important, perhaps, being the 1948 Geneva Declaration by the World Health Organization.
Dr. Mezitis, the event’s organizer, then referred to Hippocrates’ genius which transformed medicine from magic to science through the Aesclepia, the health centers of antiquity. He analyzed Hippocrates’ oath, and emphasized the eternal principles and moral values of Hippocratic ethics, “No one has ever taken this initiative so far. We decided with Dr. Chervenak to start this effort by combining ancient medicine with modern medicine, thus promoting Greece and our culture.”
Dr. Chervenak also mentioned, in common with Dr. Mezitis, that they wanted to create something important at Lenox Hill to honor the Greek medical tradition in the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath. He said, “The idea was to honor Greek doctors every year. For the first time, we honor Dr. Athanasiadis from Thessaloniki. We chose Thessaloniki because it is the second city after Athens and we thought that this time Thessaloniki should be the first to be honored. So we chose this brilliant man and leading scientist, respected by all his colleagues in Greece and abroad.”
Dr. Athanasiadis, who was honored with the first Hippocratic Symposium award, spoke about “Corticosteroids in pregnancy and their effects after 50 years of use” emphasizing the dangers of corticosteroids that physicians did not know about until a few years ago for pregnant woman, in the case of preterm labor, when it was used to help the newborn to be born without breathing difficulties. In recent years, however, new research has revealed that the majority can develop learning problems in their early-to-late-teens.
Dr. Athanasiadis mentioned the need to reduce the use of corticosteroids, because apart from the learning problems that children who take multiple doses develop, they have differences in the degree of aggression compared to those who received only one dose.
The event was attended by many notable HMSNY members, including Vice President Dr. Lorraine Chrisomalis-Valasiadis, Dr. George Liakeas, Dr. Michael Plakogiannis, Dr. Harry Karamitsos, Dr. Frixos Goussis, Dr. Helen Gouzoulis, and Dr. Demetrios Markouizos.
In the particularly moving conclusion to the event, the Hippocratic Oath was read in ancient Greek, by Dr. Tsioulias, who proclaimed the words that are the father of medicine’s living legacy to humanity with great respect and said, “I am very pleased to have participated in the newly inaugurated Hippocratic Oath Symposium, organized by the Hellenic Medical Society of New York in collaboration with Lenox Hill Hospital. It is a great opportunity to share with our colleagues and the public the seminal importance of the Hippocratic Oath, and Hippocrates’ contributions as a physician, a scientist, an ethicist, and a philosopher. The scientific and ethical principles of Medicine he established over 2,500 years ago transcend through time and place, and resonate in our daily medical practice. We, the Greek physicians in the U.S., and worldwide, have a moral obligation to continue his legacy, and to ensure that the importance of the Hippocratic Oath and Hippocrates’ many contributions to Medicine are not forgotten. To that end HMSNY will continue to organize this Symposium annually and educate and inspire the next generation of physicians with the wise words of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine.”
Dr. Stella Lymberis read the Hippocratic Oath in English, urging all doctors to stand up and take the oath all together. She told TNH, “We need more than ever to understand the Hippocratic Oath and that its principles are universal. At the critical juncture for our homeland and society, the medical world is called upon to stand up and continue to protect our culture. The Oath is a universal symbol of humanity today, inactivated by the challenges of commercialized medicine. Our profession will soon no longer be a noble one, but will become a service business. Let us protect our science. Do not let it become prey to health multinationals.”