Eight-fifteen p.m., exactly. The floor manager signaled to Jarrett. Wise to start speaking. "Good evening, Ted, this is Jarrett, in Washington. Can you hear me, Ted? Ted, can you hear me?"
Ted Childs and a group of physical therapy students at Tuskegee Institute 700 miles away in Tuskegee, Ala, were coming in clearly on the color television monitor in the studio of the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda. Child's lips were moving, but no sound was coming out, so the words "Tuskegee, speak to us. We can't hear you," were flashed on the screen.
And then, from the campus of the college founded by Booker T. Washington, the words "Good evening, Jarrett" bounced off a satellite 22,300 miles above the earth. The second in a series of joint health seminars involving Tuskegee and George Washington University here was under way.
For the next two hours, a group of juniors and seniors at the black southern school talked to members of the National office staff of the Association of Physical Therapists - their future profession's association - and saw video-taped presentations by the association's executive director and several division heads.
"This gives our students a chance for a real live visit to the American Physical Therapy Association," said Childs, chairman of Tuskegee's Division of Allied Health Professions and a former trainer for the Baltimore Colts.
The seminars in the 10-part series will include such topics as rehabilitation training, physiology, anatomy, gerontology - the special medical problems of the aged - rehabilitation training and rural health care.
The seminar series is a pilot project, which it is hoped, will lead to wider use of such satellite hookups, said Marion H. Hull of the Booker T. Washington Foundation.
The foundation, said Hull, is acting as the coordinator of the project, which is funded by the National Library of Medicine. The foundation has "an on going project to assist black colleges to get involved in the new technologies," she explained.
The proposal for the present seminar series came from Tuskegee, Hull said, and originally was to have involved Howard University. But after participating in one such broadcast last year, Howard dropped out, said Hull, and George Washington, expressed interest in taking over the project.
"Our hopes are that, based on the results of this we can get a long term project going," said Hull.
The seminars topics all center around the so called allied health fields - including physical therapy occupational therapy, and services provided by physicians' assistants and nurse practionters - which is "something they're interested in (at Tuskegee) and there are so the specific folks at GW" who can be useful to the southern students, said Wise, acting director of allied health at GW' medical school and moderator of the series.
The Tuskegee end of the broadcasts emanates from the Veterans Administration Hospital at Tuskegee, where at portable transmitter has been temporarily installed to beam the programs to the satellite, the last launched by NASA.
While the camera work was not as smooth on the Alabama end as it was in Bethesada, the Bethesda crew was professional and that at Tuskegee made up of students.
Problems with the sound at the Tuskegee end made it difficult to hear some of the students' questions, but onece the difficulties were eliminated, the queries about such subjects as mal-practice insurance for physical therapists, competition from other health care specialists and coverage of physical therapy under a national health insurance scheme came through loud and clear.
When Ted Childs asked if anything is being done to interest the Public Health Service in hiring physical the rapists to work in rural areas, Hull quickly scrawled a message and held it up for Wise, who was on camera:
"Ask him if he wants somebody from the PHS on a future program."