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Harvard Medical School Department of Anesthesia Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Welcome DinnerMore than 160 people gathered at the Harvard Club on May 16, 2009, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of an independent Department of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School.

The Anesthesia Service became a separate Department of Anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1968, and on later dates at other hospitals associated with Harvard Medical School.

Coordinated by Dr. George Battit (pictured left, with Dr. Jeffrey Cooper), the event was attended by alumni who came from as far away from Ireland. Attendees represented Harvard's four major anesthesia teaching hospitals: Mass General, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Children's Hospital.

Dr. Battit, who also acted as the event's emcee, said that in addition to dinner and cocktails, the evening included historical vignettes presented by representatives from each hospital's department of anesthesia.

The presenters included Dr. Richard Kitz of Mass General, Dr. John Hedley-Whyte of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Joseph Garfield of Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Dr. Battit, who read a vignette from Dr. Edward Lowenstein. The presentations also included a video of a resident skit produced 32 years ago by Dr. Mark Rockoff, representing Children's Hospital, Dr. Battit said.

In addition, a presentation of photos was projected continuously without comment throughout the evening showing a series of 400 photos taken over the years. This series of pictures was interrupted only for the presentation of Dr. Rockoff's skit. Two hundred and fifty were from Mass General, and the remainder were from the archives of Dr. Rockoff and some selected slides from other departments.

Dr. Battit said the event was significant because of the field's struggle to become established as a separate department of medical science. Many Massachusetts General Hospital physicians, as well as physicians from the other hospitals, worked diligently to make the change possible, he said.

The group raised a toast to those who had gone before them to make this status a reality.

"It was a great opportunity to make a statement about the Department of Anesthesia, as well as an opportunity to renew old friendships and make new ones," Battit said. He hopes that this anniversary will be celebrated in like fashion during the years to come.

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Department of Anesthesia,
Critical Care and Pain Medicine
Gray-Bigelow 444
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

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