One machinery technician whom the doctor befriended wore through four pairs of work boots in two months, the heat from Ground Zero’s fires literally melting the soles off his shoes. If patients like this had come into his practice, Gudeon recalled, he would have sent them home to rest for a few days. Instead, according to Gudeon, “They’d say, ‘Fix me up. I’m going back out.’ They wouldn’t stop.”
For Gudeon, known as “Dr. Artie” at St. Paul’s, volunteering his time and medical expertise was a deeply emotional experience, as he said in an oral history recorded by the 9/11 Memorial Museum:
You know, of course, as we’re working on these people coming in from the pit . . . they’d be telling stories of what they were finding out there, and we’d be basically crying together, really. But in some respects, too, it was extremely uplifting. It was just an exhilarating thing knowing that you were there doing something, because you felt you had to. You had to do something for what had happened.
Like tens of thousands of first responders, recovery workers, volunteers, and lower Manhattan residents, Gudeon is now battling chronic illnesses related to his exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. The medical care he receives through the World Trade Center Health Program, however, has helped the doctor stay active. “They have me on a regimen now, and now I’m back to tennis,” he said in a 2008 interview. “I’m not supposed to play singles, but I do.”
Dr. Artie is still working today. If he ever retired, he said, “I think I would go nuts.” So, like he did after 9/11—and like countless medical professionals are doing now, in the face of a global medical emergency—Arthur Gudeon continues to help New York City get back on its feet, one patient at a time.
By Isabela Morales, Manager of Exhibition Development, 9/11 Memorial & Museum