The phone call MSU Health's CMO made after the East Lansing shooting

Michael Weiner, DO, arrived in East Lansing to assume the role of chief medical officer for Michigan State University Health unaware that one week after his arrival, a mass shooting on the campus would take the lives of three and injure five.

Dr. Weiner previously served as the chief medical officer for a government contracting company, IBM and even the Department of Defense, but none of his collected experiences prepared him to take a leadership role at a university that just experienced a mass shooting. 

"You're not trained in medical school for how to deal with a mass casualty event and the aftermath of it," Dr. Weiner told Becker's

It's why he picked up the phone and decided to call Mark Rogers, DO, the chief medical officer at Virginia Tech — a campus that experienced a mass shooting in 2007 that left 32 dead. 

Dr. Weiner didn't know Dr. Rogers at all. In fact, they had never spoken, but it was something he felt like he needed to do, and Dr. Rogers was there answering his questions as best he could on the other end of the line. 

"I didn't know him. I just reached out right after the event occurred, just to get his advice because he had been through it a few years back," Dr. Weiner said. "He was just incredible in offering guidance and thoughtful actions that should be taken after such a horrific event." 

Dr. Weiner said the first thing Dr. Rogers told him was that this is the beginning of a long journey to healing and that "in his words, 'we're in a unique, terrible group now.'" 

"He said to me, 'First of all, no one should have to go through this, but for those of us who have — here are our lessons learned,'" Dr. Weiner recounted.

Dr. Rogers also told Dr. Weiner to lean in to the power and community of university athletics. 

"His advice was to utilize sports and these big events to bring everyone together," Dr. Weiner said. "I think we've done a good job doing that. You see everybody in their 'Spartan strong' T-shirts, gathering for a moment of silence, and it's really just a moment for the community and the students to come together, have a shared experience and reflect on what has occurred and how to get through it together."

The Feb. 13 mass shooting at MSU marked the 67th mass shooting of 2023 — and there have been 36 more since, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. It's something Dr. Weiner and hundreds of other healthcare leaders are calling for the nation to address as a public health issue — rather than a political one.

"This is truly a public health issue," Dr. Weiner said. "If I was going to have two asks of our nation they would be: We need research on gun violence and more funding to support the mental well-being of our citizens."

Looking ahead, Dr. Weiner plans to continue getting involved in the community to identify and support the needs of a community that is only beginning its healing process.

"This is not a 'one-and-done' event. The ramifications of this will echo in the community for months if not years to come," Dr. Weiner said. "I think our challenge is to stay focused on the identification and treatment of those in need over the upcoming years post shooting in particular."

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