April 12, 2004

Moyers return marks programming expansion          

By Eric Rangus

The November 2002 visit to Grady's emergency medicine department by William Moyers, vice president of external affairs at the Hazelden Founda-tion, a nonprofit organization that offers treatment for chemical dependency, has resonated far beyond the Grand Rounds speech he gave to 200 attendees.

The former journalist and recovering substance abuser made such an impression that he has been invited back, this time to the main campus, where he will deliver "Surviving Your Success: A Story of Fame and Fantasy," Tuesday, April 13, at 7 p.m. in WHSCAB Auditorium. "From the CNN Center to a crack house on Ponce," advertising for the event reads. "A journalist relates his story of fame, fantasy and recovery."

The Department of Emergency Medicine is the lead sponsor of Moyers' speech, and this event is the result of a dramatically increased outreach effort that also involves Student Health Services (SHS), Campus Life, the Center for Ethics and several servant organizations.

"If someone is in college and is an abuser, yet is successful, the disease will still progress," said Marlena Wald, director of the Emergency Medicine Research Center at Grady Hospital. "As they get older, the chances they will have to visit an emergency room will only increase."

The key, Wald said, is to ramp up prevention efforts and target abusers and potential abusers when they are in college. As such, she has reached out to potential partners on the main campus.

"I was at the Grand Rounds and after we saw Mr. Moyers speak, I knew we needed to have him up here talking to Emory students," said Karen Salisbury, director of student activities. Salisbury, along with Wald and SHS's Colleen Carter-Lunceford and Virginia Plummer, make up the "Uptown Alcohol Interven-tion Group," which is working to create programming geared toward educating college students about substance abuse and perhaps facilitating treatment. (The "Downtown" group is based at Grady.)

Moyers serves as a catalyst for this effort in more ways than one. His April 13 speech is the first public program. The next day he will meet privately with 50 senior administrators and deans to discuss substance abuse. He also will spend time at Gradyn visiting treatment groups.

Plummer said this is not a specific response to any problem at Emory, which has a proactive approach to substance abuse and several treatment options for students, faculty and staff. "The issues regarding alcohol are community and society issues," she said. "It's important to bring speakers to campus who can address the basics. The difficulty of bringing the community together to address these challenges has been with us for many years."

Moyers was a print and television journalist for 15 years; he worked at CNN, Newsday and other newspapers. Moyers also overcame substance abuse in several treatment centers and will offer a first-hand account of his struggle.

Moyers' first visit in 2002 had several repercussions for Emory's emergency medicine department. Not only was his Grand Rounds one of the most popular and accessible of the series' offerings, last summer Moyers hosted three department faculty at Hazelden. The department also has received three grants for substance abuse research, two from the National Highway Safety Administration and a third from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).