A reader recently told me that he enjoyed reading my columns, but he followed that statement with, “It’s too bad there’s so much negative to write about.” I have to admit that I was taken aback. Had I been guilty of what we all criticize the media of doing—focusing too much on the negative? At any rate, this month I am concentrating on the positive and celebrating the good in the human race, as evidenced by monumental efforts to help in the aftermath of hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region.

Following the recent hurricanes, it has been encouraging and uplifting to observe people come together to help one another. I have been extremely moved by the countless stories of people putting their lives on the line to assist in rescue efforts, people opening their homes to evacuees, medical personnel volunteering their services, and donations from people all around the world that have now topped $2 billion.

It is also encouraging to see that our industry associations have stepped up to the plate. The American Association for Clinical Chemistry created a Web site to help coordinate clinical laboratory-related relief efforts. The American Society for Clinical Pathology donated textbooks to Louisiana State University pathology residents, who lost their belongings in the hurricane and subsequent flooding of New Orleans.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which has approximately 700 members in the Gulf Coast region, contributed $35,000 to the American Red Cross on behalf of its members. It also created a message board so that ASM members could share information and offer assistance to colleagues.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) was forced to relocate its 47th Annual Meeting and Exposition this month from New Orleans to Atlanta. However, the association established the ASH Katrina Relief Fund to support the medical community as well as the hospitality industry in New Orleans and the surrounding area. Through this program, ASH plans to provide grants to the three New Orleans medical institutions with hematology/oncology training programs: Tulane University, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, and the Ochsner Clinic Foundation. Grants will also go to the Louisiana State Medical Society’s Hurricane Katrina Physician Relief Fund, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Employee Relief Fund, and the New Orleans Tourism Workers Relief Fund.

On another level, COLA is working with and providing regulatory relief to laboratories in hurricane-affected areas so that they can continue to provide high-quality services with minimal disruption.

Finally, as we enjoy this season of giving, our gift to you this month is CLP’s 2006 Buyer’s Guide, which begins on page 11. This important guide provides clinical lab professionals with everything you need to make purchasing decisions. The Products and Services Index lists suppliers in various product categories, and the Company Profiles section offers an alphabetical listing of the companies that provide the products and services you need. The Buyer’s Guide also includes a Product Showcase of innovative products and services for the clinical laboratory. Use it in good health.

Happy Holidays!

Carol Andrews
[email protected]