Last month, the BWH Heart & Vascular Center and Division of Cardiovascular Medicine celebrated a major milestone: the 50th anniversary of the Levine Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (LCU). Members of the center and division, as well as the broader BWH community, gathered in Bornstein Amphitheater on Dec. 17 to reflect on the highlights of the LCU’s 50 years and hear from guest speaker John Rutherford, MB, ChB, FRACP, former co-director of the LCU who is now at the University of Texas Southwestern.
“The LCU is a crown jewel of our clinical services and academic training programs,” said David Morrow, MD, MPH, LCU director. “If there is one unifying theme for this celebration, it is that the rich history of the LCU rests in its people and partnerships.”
When the LCU first opened in February 1965 at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, it was one of a handful of novel, specialized coronary care centers that would revolutionize both the care and survival of heart attack patients. The unit was specifically designed, equipped and staffed to monitor heart rhythm and resuscitate patients experiencing fatal arrhythmias. It was outfitted with electrocardiographic monitors for continuous heart rhythm surveillance, alarms to alert staff of rhythm disturbances and highly trained coronary care nurses prepared to intervene during cardiac arrest. Much of Rutherford’s presentation highlighted the critical importance of nurses’ insight and knowledge from the unit’s earliest days through the present.
“The unit continues to lead the way in caring for the most complex, critical cardiac patients and training the next generation of world leaders in the field,” said Rutherford.
Rutherford also detailed the far-reaching impact of the unit’s physicians and former directors, including Samuel Levine, MD, the unit’s namesake, Bernard Lown, MD, Elliott Antman, MD, and Peter Libby, MD, and highlighted the staff’s commitment to keeping patients and families at the forefront.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants, and I hope the past 50 years forecast our future,” Morrow said.