Title: Surgeon, Educator, Dean, Philanthropist
Location: Germantown, New York, United States
George Elliot Reed, DVM, MD, Surgeon, Educator, Dean, and Philanthropist, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Doctors for dedication, achievements, and leadership in health care and philanthropy.
Best described by Donald Smith, Dean Emeritus of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as “scholar, surgeon, and healer,” George E. Reed DVM, MD devoted more than 60 years to the practice of health care and philanthropy. A physician in the Oslerian tradition, his hands, mind, and heart would be imprinted upon thousands of patients, either directly or through the physicians, he trained to follow those principles he taught and embodied.
Born in 1923, Dr. Reed entered Cornell University in 1939 as the recipient of a tuition scholarship intent on becoming an engineer. He received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1944 and was discharged from the Army Specialized Training Program. He waived his deferment from the draft and enlisted in the army as a private. After completing basic training, he was transferred to Field Artillery OCS but was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the Veterinary Corp. In 1947, he was separated from the Army as a Captain after establishing a successful School for Veterinary Technicians in the Fifth Army. That autumn, he entered the NYU-Bellevue College of Medicine from which he received his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1951. His surgical residency was completed in 1956, at which time he was appointed as a Fellow in Surgery with a modest fund and a mandate to establish a Large Animal Surgical Laboratory in which to develop an Open Heart Surgery Program. The first operation in April 1959 led to one of the most successful programs in New York State. Dr. Reed’s appointment as the Cardiac Surgeon for Bellevue’s Thursday Night Cardiac Clinic, the first of its kind, assured patients of free surgical care without sacrificing their daily wages. As the Cardiac Surgeon for Irvington House, one of the earliest free centers for treating children with rheumatic fever before artificial heart valves were available, he was successful in developing techniques for repairing valves with autologous and cryopreserved tissues, techniques applicable in adults as well.
The Large Animal Surgical Laboratory pursued an early interest in support of the failing myocardium as a result of changes in the metabolism; mechanical support of the left ventricle; the successful protocol for “Counterpulsation”; the transmission of electrical energy through the intact skin to energize ventricular assistance while avoiding infection; techniques for the repair of cardiac valves; and preservation and use of autologous tissue before mechanical valves were available. Additional areas of special interest and success were coronary artery bypass grafting utilizing both internal mammary arteries. The use of magnification with binocular loupes was introduced and popularized.
Dr. Reed served at NYU-Bellevue as Professor of Surgery, Director of the Surgical Residency Program, Chief of Cardiac Surgery, and Director of the Surgical Research Laboratory. In 1977, the HSA designated the newly built Westchester County Medical Center as a tertiary care hospital for the mid-Hudson Valley. Dr. Reed was recruited to establish a Cardiac Surgical Service there to serve this seven-county area with a population of three million. This rapidly became one of the busiest cardiac surgical services in the state because it operated with very low mortality, on all patients who could benefit from surgery regardless of severity of disease or ability to pay.
At the Westchester Medical Center, Dr. Reed served as Professor of Surgery and Chief of Cardiac Surgery, as well as Vice Dean of New York Medical College. He spent the last 12 years as Medical Director of the 1,000-bed public medical center and as Vice Dean of the Medical College, two positions for which he declined compensation to avoid the probability of conflict of interest as Medical Director with his position as president of The Medical Faculty Health Alliance, the full-time staff and faculty organization which he was instrumental in founding.
Altruistic goals were evident from the beginnings of Dr. Reed’s career. Training, followed by surgical practice and teaching was primarily in public hospitals such as Bellevue Hospital and Westchester County Medical Center, where he had continual exposure to poverty in healthcare.
When he became aware of the inability of trained cardiac surgeons to establish programs in their home countries, he invited those surgeons to bring the components of an open-heart team to Westchester for one or more months of one-on-one training in the pre and post-op cardiac units. After this intensive training, they returned home with instructions to duplicate the infrastructure and to select two dozen patients suitable for operation. A Westchester Team, volunteers who waived vacation time, were then sent for two-week periods. The operations and post-op care were performed entirely by the local team, as visitors only provided consultations with no hands-on participation.
Meticulous selection and exquisite intra and post-op management resulted in 100 percent survival and the momentum to go forward with positive anticipation. This program, or a close variation, was used in Greece, Albania, Armenia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Thailand, Borneo, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Beijing, Xian, Nanning, Kunming, and Shanghai. This program was underwritten by Dr. Reed’s group. An offshoot of this program was used by Dr. Saw Huat Seong of Singapore to provide the same assistance to other hospitals in China and South-East Asia.
To attest to his legacy, Dr. Reed can also be found in various editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and Who’s Who in the East.
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