6 A Tribute to Our Friend: Paul Cavalli, MD
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Dynamic Chiropractic – January 1, 2004, Vol. 22, Issue 01

A Tribute to Our Friend: Paul Cavalli, MD

By John Cerf, DC
You just lost one of your best friends - and you never even knew his name! A few weeks ago, 74-year-old Paul Cavalli, MD, founder of Meadows Hospital Medical Center (1971), passed away. Angela Stewart, staff writer for the Star Ledger newspaper, wrote a lengthy article1 memorializing Dr. Cavalli. She described him as a trendsetter in the hospital he founded. In the obituary, she wrote, "In 1994, Meadowlands became the first New Jersey hospital to feature chiropractors working side-by-side with doctors."

One of the greatest advances for our profession has been gaining hospital staff privileges. For years, our claim was that chiropractic became successful by helping patients who had failed with traditional medical remedies. Now, medicine can observe us closely and give us the credit we deserve. By virtue of the large numbers of patients and the variety of conditions seen in the hospital, we are becoming more confident in our ability to determine what conditions will respond better to chiropractic methods.

The priest who presided at the funeral knew Dr. Cavalli for many years; he spoke of the doctor's frequent, "Oh, I know him, he's a friend of mine," at the mention of someone's name. Being Dr. Cavalli's friend was synonymous with being helped at one time or another by him. He helped every member of our profession, by helping to break down the barrier of prejudice that kept chiropractors out of the emergency department (ED).

When Gina Puglisi, MD, director of Emergency Medicine, approached the hospital with the idea of putting chiropractors on call, there didn't seem much chance of gaining the approval of the Medical Executive Committee. Dr. Cavalli's endorsement of the chiropractic profession was the push needed to have the hospital's bylaws amended, giving chiropractors permission to see patients in the ED.

Because of Dr. Cavalli, the patient who exclaims that medical doctors don't like chiropractors can be answered with, "How could that be - when some hospital emergency departments have chiropractors?" Without Dr. Cavalli's assistance, I would never had heard numerous medical physicians and nurses say there should be a chiropractor in every ED in the country!

Without Dr. Cavalli's help, I would not have been invited by Dr. Thomas Ventimiglia of New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) to speak at New York City's Beth Israel Hospital, concerning the role of chiropractic in the ED. I would not have been sitting next to an emergency department physician who told the audience how his job was made easier by having a chiropractor on-call.

Dr. Valdi Sapira explained that while he was well-equipped to handle medical emergencies, having a chiropractor on call not only saved him valuable time, but gave him additional options to offer his patients. Because of Dr. Cavalli, there are many more medical physicians who have also become chiropractic proponents.

Because of Dr. Cavalli, you will not have the near-impossible task of trying to get the first hospital to take a chance and allow chiropractors into the ED. Instead, you have the opportunity to build on the successes of others. You have the opportunity to join the American Academy of Hospital Chiropractors - an organization that would not have existed if Dr. Cavalli hadn't helped get the ball rolling.

While there were a number of people attending the funeral, the attendance didn't come close to the crowd that should have been there. If all the local area people helped by Dr. Cavalli had attended the funeral, there would have been no place to sit - or even stand. If all the people assisted by Dr. Cavalli had attended, the mass of people would have spread out for miles. It would have included more than 50,000 chiropractors. As it was, I was the only chiropractor in attendance. I was there to remember Dr. Cavalli and say "Thank you" - from all of us.


  1. A unique man: Paul Cavalli dies at 74. The Hudson Reporter (www.hudsonreporter.com), Oct. 19, 2003.

John Cerf, DC
Jersey City, New Jersey

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