Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dr Rainer Gruessner: Native American Culture

Dr Rainer Gruessner was appointed chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in 2007. It is a role that kept him extraordinarily busy, but he still manages to find time to pursue those things that interest him outside of medicine.

One of the things that interest Gruessner is American Indian culture and art. As a resident of Tucson, Arizona, there is much that Dr. Gruessner can learn about in his own back yard. Indigenous people have lived in present-day Arizona for thousands of years, and more than one fourth of the State’s area is reservation land.

Among the many Native American cultures indigenous to Arizona is the Navajo Nation, which, as Dr Rainer Gruessner knows, has the largest Native American reservation in the United States. Navajo culture and traditions were centered on family life. Navajo culture has always been centered on ceremonies and rituals. Some of their chants may last as long as nine days and require dozens of helpers.

It was of particular interest to Gruessner that the most important Navajo ceremonies are for treatment of ills, both mental and physical. The Navajo culture used sand painting as a spiritual way to heal the sick. When they sand painted, they made the painting in a smooth bed of sand, which was only temporary. Crushed yellow ochre, red sandstone, gypsum, and charcoal were used to create the images during their chants. The chants were for the Earth people and the holy people to come back into harmony, which provides them protection and healing.

Dr Rainer Gruessner has taken great pride in the fact that his department has trained a total of 7 Native Americans to become surgeons. All of them have gone back to the reservations and practice surgery there at the major hospitals. His is the residency program that has trained the most Native Americans in the last 10 years.

Dr Rainer Gruessner has been in surgical leadership positions for sixteen years, in either Chair or Vice-Chair positions.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Gruessner and his team, but Mostly Dr. Gruessner and God saved my partner's life. My partner had pancreatic cancer and from the time the tumor was found a month before surgery, it had tripled in size. It was Dr. Gruessner who was able to tell us with certainty, that in fact it was cancer and he removed not only the cancer, but 35 lymph nodes and the spleen. At first meeting Dr. Gruessner, we were told that my partner would probably have to have his whole pancreas removed, but when Dr. Gruessner found that my partner's pancreas was still producing insulin, he decided to do the least amount of surgery possible and still make sure all the cancer was removed. I now face a possible tumor in my pancreas and I only want the best Dr. to do the surgery if it is to be that I need it at all, and that surgeon would be Dr. Gruessner. When Dr. Gruessner was doing the original surgery on my partner, he came to the waiting room to update me on the progress of the surgery as they waited for the preliminary results of the lymph nodes to see how far the cancer had spread. Shortly there after, maybe 30 to 45 minutes later, I saw Dr. Gruessner come running into the waiting area and I thought it must be bad news as it was too soon for the surgery to be over, until I saw Dr. Gruessner's face. Dr. Gruessner and I will never forget this as long as I live, looked like Santa Claus with the biggest smile on his face, as he searched for me, saw me and ran towards me to tell me they got all the cancer! I know that my partner would not have made it another 2 or 3 months had it not been for Dr. Gruessner and God almighty. God led us to Dr. Gruessner and he led Dr. Gruessner's hands during the surgery and because of that, my partner has been cancer free for 2 1/4 years! THANK YOU DR> Gruessner...Meaghan and Tony L.