University of Virginia Dean To Serve on Investigative Panel

newspaperstack.gifUniversity of Virginia Dean To Serve on Investigative Panel
U.Va. alumna, Medical School Dean to bring expertise to panel in examining response to Virginia Tech shootings
by Meredyth Gilmore, Cavalier Daily Staff Writer
Blacksburg, VA (rushprnews) April 24, 2007 -Members of the University community have been recruited by Gov. Tim Kaine to serve on an investigative panel aimed at examining the response to conditions surrounding the Virginia Tech shootings.

Last Friday, the governor appointed Medical School Assistant Dean Marcus Martin and Diane Strickland, Law School alumna and former dean of Student Legal Services, to the panel.Martin and Strickland are joining what will be an eight-member commission led by former Virginia State Police Superintendent Gerald Massengill.

The panel will examine the particular circumstances before, during and after the events on the Tech campus last Monday, said Kevin Hall, press secretary for Gov. Kaine.

“Individual members of this review panel bring a specialized expertise to different parts of that time frame,” he said. “Dr. Martin from the University has an expertise in emergency medicine. It will be very valuable to have his insights in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and how the emergency medical response played out.”

Martin served as chairman of the Emergency Medicine Department for 10 years. He left the position last July to take his current assistant dean position in the Medical School and to join the Office of Diversity and Equity as interim assistant vice president.

In the emergency department, Martin was responsible for patient care, devising disaster emergency preparedness systems and interacting with security and police departments.

Martin has also shaped hospital policy for treating patients who have mental illnesses.

“I can anticipate that we will review state and national laws related to mental health, particularly involuntary commitment, care, hospitalization and legal documentation of that illness,” Martin said. “We will also review existing gun laws and how it applies to purchase by those who are diagnosed with mental illness.”

Strickland, who recently co-chaired a study on issues surrounding involuntary mental commitment, also has considerable experience dealing with issues of mental health from a legal perspective. As a judge in the circuit court of Roanoke, she reviewed appeals of restraining orders and detention orders.

“We will be looking at the mental health picture Cho presented when he came to the authorities and keeping an open mind in term [of] whether there need to be changes made in the system,” Strickland said. “We will give careful scrutiny to how communications are shared, balancing the rights of privacy of the patient and the need for communications between various state agencies.”

The independent review board will also include the nation’s first Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, Hall said. TriData, which previously assessed the response to the Columbine shootings, is an “after-action” emergency response consulting team that has been hired to aid the commission.

The commission has not yet planned a meeting schedule, but Hall said the governor expects the commission members to draft a preliminary report before classes resume in the fall. This deadline was also chosen so the General Assembly would have time to draft any legislation recommended by the commission.
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