Rice Medical Humanities 2016 Symposium: Remembering Our Roots: Keeping the Cura in Cure

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Introduction, Dr. Kirsten Ostherr, Ph.D. M.P.H.

Womb to Tomb: Singing, Science, and the Mother's Voice, Dr. Kay Norton

Encounters with the Electronic Medical Record: Technology and Talking to Patients
Dr. Lauren Barron, M.D.

The Doctor-Patient Relationship: What Would Osler Say?
Dr. Bryant Boutwell, Ph.D.

The Doctor's Kit: Poetry and Moral Imagination
Dr. Woods Nash, Ph.D.

Facets of the Doctor-Patient Bond: Stories from MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Tacey Rosolowski, Ph.D.

Pediatric Palliative Care: Holistic by Nature
Dr. Daniel Mahoney, M.D.


Rice Medical Humanities 2018 Symposium: An Uncertain Science

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Emerging Discipline of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Gia Merlo

A Piece of the Light: Poetic Narratives and Palliative Care, Dr. Marcia Brennan

Ethically Responsible Stewardship of Resources, Dr. Mary Majumder

Values and Decision Making in Palliative Care, Dr. Daniel Mahoney

Deep Brain Stimulation, Alienation, and Quality of Life, Peter Zuk



Healthcare workers are experiencing incredible amounts of stress and mental health issues as a result of their commitment to providing care during the pandemic. Even though medical workers are celebrated and lauded as heroes for their sacrifices during this time, they are suffering from the crushing weight and burden of the pandemic. The medical humanities encompass not only the patient but also the providers, so we hope to weave together our resources and concern for the wellbeing of healthcare professionals into this letter-writing campaign, which aims to help alleviate some of their distress by providing words of encouragement. We plan to send these letters, written by you, to some of the hardest-hit hospitals in the United States. For more information, check out the pages on this website, which will give more details about the purpose of our campaign and the hospitals we plan to send the letter to.

Below is a form to input your letters, which we will print out and send to several hospitals. Feel free to write handwritten letters as well--we greatly appreciate those as well. Please contact Maddie West ( for more information.


In February of 2020, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the United States. Seven months later, the United States has now counted well over 6 million cases with no end in sight. The virus devastated Northeastern states such as New York and New Jersey early in the pandemic. New York City itself has seen 239,000 cases with over 23,000 deaths, while nearly 16,000 deaths have occured in New Jersey. In fact, New York and New Jersey have the highest death rates for COVID-19 in the United States. While the Northeast has thankfully moved past their peak, the virus has now taken over states such as California, Texas, and Florida, which have all surpassed New York and New Jersey’s case counts by far. Harris County, where Rice University is located, has had 106,000 cases to date.

With researchers racing to create, test, and mass-produce an effective vaccine for the SARS-Cov-2 virus, healthcare workers still carry the burden of high case numbers. Not only have healthcare workers had to deal with more hectic schedules and a frustrating lack of protective gear, but they have also had to cope with the heavy psychological toll of this pandemic. In this sense, healthcare workers are combatting the virus along with their own exhaustion and distress. Several doctors and nurses are faced with the fear that they cannot do enough for their patients due to the absence of an effective vaccine. Healthcare professionals already have elevated levels of mental health issues such as depression and burnout, but the pandemic has exacerbated this problem. Houston Methodist’s employees have called its counseling center at a 650% higher rate. A recognized Emergency Room physician in New York City committed suicide due to the pandemic, even though she had no prior history of mental illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have even published a webpage as a resource healthcare workers can use to cope with their mental health during this pandemic.

As the current atmosphere surrounding the coronavirus centers on understanding the pathophysiology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and discovering a vaccine, we feel a personal responsibility to highlight the psychosocial impacts of the virus. The Rice Medical Humanities Club wants to show gratitude to frontline workers and medical professionals by launching our “Notes for Coats” campaign, which encourages Rice students, faculty, and staff to write letters of support to healthcare workers across the country. We have partnered with multiple institutions including The Montefiore Health System of the Bronx, Tsehootsooi Medical Center of Arizona, The Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey, and Massachusetts General Hospital. We hope that by sending these letters, healthcare professionals across the country feel appreciated and comforted during these difficult times.



Montefiore Health System in the Bronx: Montefiore Medical Center located in the Bronx, New York, is the hospital for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. One of the hardest hit locations in terms of COVID-19, Montefiore has led initiatives in accelerating the development of digital healthcare.

Holy Name Medical Center: Holy Name Medical Center is a non-profit hospital located in Teaneck, New Jersey. It is a community focused medical center and was the first hospital in New Jersey to complete a deep-cleaning of its facilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Massachusetts General Hospital: Massachusetts General Hospital is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. It’s also the third oldest general hospital in the United States, located in Boston, Massachusetts. Mass Gen has played a large role in COVID-19 related research.

Tséhootsooí Medical Center: Tséhootsooí Medical Center is a hospital in Fort Defiance, AZ, Navajo Nation. They are not under the regulation of Indian Health Services, but instead act as an independent hospital serving the Navajo Nation.

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