February 27, 2022
February has so many events to celebrate. I hope you spent some time with your Valentine, appreciated a President and recognized Black history in the USA. The AACT and AAPCC have already met, and preparations for a live and in-person NACCT 2022, in San Francisco have begun!
When I think back to when I knew nothing about clinical toxicology, I was an emergency medicine technician at Ramsey Hospital (which became Regions Hospital in 1997) in St. Paul, MN. At the time, there was no emergency medicine residency and few of the attendings were emergency medicine residency trained. This is where I met my first overdose patient and first African-American physician, Dr. Carson Harris, MD. He was the local expert in clinical toxicology and instructed me on the use of gastric lavage and activated charcoal. It was common practice to perform gastric decontamination on every overdose presentation.
Dr. Harris was a pioneer in the practice of medical toxicology before the American Board of Medical Subspecialties ABMS recognized the value of our board certification. He was and still is a brilliant and innovative physician who now practices addiction medicine as well. At that time, I did not understand or appreciate his medical kills, I admired him for the person that he is. He balances a cool, calm and controlled demeanor with a warmth, thoughtfulness and a friendly smile. He speaks to everyone on the level and treats those around him with respect and dignity. Years later, I met him again at NACCT and annually thereafter. He and Kristin Engebretsen were the core of what became the medical toxicology fellowship at Regions Hospital.
As members of the AACT, you are so fortunate to have Christopher Hoyte, MD as the President-Elect. He is prolific in his clinical work, research, teaching and mentorship as the Medical Director of the Rocky Mountain Poison Center, and Program Director of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship. In about seven months, he will be the next President of the AACT, and the first African-American to hold this office. This will be a historical moment in the world of Clinical Toxicology. Undoubtedly, Drs. Hoyte and Harris have faced many barriers to their success, which makes their accomplishments even more impressive.
Please join me in celebrating, recognizing and thanking two medial toxicologists Dr. Carson Harris and Christopher Hoyte during Black History Month. All of us who have worked side-by-side or been influenced by them in emergency medicine and clinical toxicology, have benefited greatly from these multi-talented gentlemen.
Kirk Cumpston, DO