BROOKLYN, NY (April 21, 2011) – Maimonides Medical Center, once a small community hospital, has become a nationally recognized center of innovation and excellence in medicine over the course of its 100-year history. As the Medical Center marks its Centennial Year, the Department of Medicine is celebrating its central role in furthering this tradition of exceptional patient care, research and medical training.

“The Department of Medicine has a rich and fascinating history that reveals how Maimonides has evolved and grown from a respected community hospital to an elite medical institution,” said Dr. Edgar Lichstein, Chair of the Department of Medicine. “It is an ongoing story that we add to every day as our staff continues to strive for – and attain – new levels of excellence in patient care.”

Laying the Foundation

During the early twentieth century, most medical subspecialties did not exist, so the Department of Medicine covered virtually all aspects of patient care. Formal teaching of interns began in the early 1920’s, and by 1928 Maimonides had secured recognition by the American Medical Association as an accredited institution for physician training.

The next two decades saw the introduction of new concepts in medical practice, and Maimonides brought those specialized therapies to the people of Brooklyn. A Physiotherapy Clinic was established in 1930 while the hospital was known as United Israel Zion Hospital, followed closely by a Cardiac Clinic. Many other medical subspecialties developed in this era, and Maimonides incorporated each into its growing Department of Medicine.

A Teaching Hospital Grows

The hospital’s emergence as an important academic center can be traced back to the appointment of Dr. David Grob, a nationally-known researcher and clinician, as chair of the Department of Medicine in 1958. Dr. Grob, who came to Maimonides Hospital from Johns Hopkins, was internationally recognized for his expertise in neuromuscular diseases and myasthenia gravis. Over the course of three decades, he instilled a strong teaching culture at Maimonides and led it to a position of educational prominence.

Under Dr. Grob’s leadership, multiple post-graduate residency programs were established at Maimonides, including those in cardiology, hematology and neurology. The Platelet Bank and the Renal Dialysis Program were established in 1966, just as the hospital formally adopted the name of “Maimonides Medical Center.”

An advanced Medical Intensive Care Unit was established by Dr. Grob in 1976, the same year he recruited Dr. Edgar Lichstein to head cardiology. Dr. Lichstein was a principal investigator of the historic Beta-blocker Heart Attack Trial the following year – groundbreaking work that demonstrated the efficacy of a new class of cardiac medications.

Yet another historic milestone for the Department of Medicine occurred when the nation’s first fine needle aspiration biopsy was performed at Maimonides in 1981, eliminating the need for anesthesia and hospitalization. And in 1988 a residency program in Critical Care was established at the Medical Center.

The Modern Era

Dr. Edgar Lichstein, a pioneer in the field of cardiology, helped develop that division into what is now considered one of the premier programs in the country. In 1989, he replaced Dr. Grob as the Chair of the Department of Medicine. After he stepped down as chair, Dr. Grob became the medical director of the Maimonides Research and Development Foundation, a position he held until his retirement in 2006.

Dr. Lichstein changed the way patient care is delivered at Maimonides by establishing a Firm Director system and by establishing one of the earliest Hospitalist programs in New York. Recently, he has turned his focus to total care management – teaching medical residents to provide care to each patient across the entire medical continuum and not simply by treating separate illnesses.

Under Dr. Lichstein’s leadership, the Department of Medicine has established new standards and protocols that lead physicians to provide the highest levels of care using guidelines and evidence-based medicine.

The 21st Century

Maimonides became the first hospital in the nation to implement fully automatic external cardiac defibrillators in 2001, adding to its growing reputation as a hospital that puts patient safety first. And with more and more Brooklyn residents living longer lives, the Department of Medicine expanded its Geriatrics division. In 2003, the Medical Center opened its ACE (Acute Care for Elders) Unit to meet the needs of this growing segment of the community.

That same year, the Department of Medicine opened a new, $6 million, 10,000 square foot Endoscopy Center, featuring six ultra-modern procedure suites and a spacious waiting room. The Center facilitates all endoscopic procedures performed by Maimonides gastroenterologists and pulmonologists in the safest and most technologically advanced setting possible.

The Department of Medicine has always played a leadership role in the treatment of stroke at Maimonides, and in 2004 recruited a Stroke Neurologist to head that service and bring the latest protocols to the people of Brooklyn, including telemedicine technology in the ER to facilitate patient assessment. In 2005, Maimonides was designated a Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and was fully accredited by Joint Commission.

The “hospital units of the future” at Maimonides began with the opening of the beautifully appointed Kronish 6 medical unit in 2006. Featuring the latest innovations in patient safety and clinical excellence, this unit was the first to have several smaller nursing stations rather than one large one – to allow care providers to remain in close proximity to patients at all times. Alcoves throughout the unit allow physicians and nurses to enter orders electronically on the advanced Maimonides computer system. In each semi-private room, state-of-the-art beds are provided that exceed existing standards for patient safety.

The combination of dedicated clinicians, advanced technology and patient safety has improved patient outcomes dramatically over the years. Maimonides now has been ranked #1 in New York State for Critical Care Services for six years in a row by HealthGrades (2006-2011). 

Looking to the Future

According to Dr. Lichstein, the Department of Medicine will continue to focus on expanding the hospital’s role as an academic medical center as it teaches a growing number of young physicians.

“The Department of Medicine at Maimonides is at the forefront of everything Maimonides aspires to be: a place where patients can receive exceptional care provided by highly-trained and compassionate clinicians,” he declared. “We are teaching the next generation of physicians to take a holistic approach to patient care, always putting the patient’s welfare above all else.”

From the hospital’s modest inception as a dispensary in 1911, through its early years of growth and development as a community hospital, to its modern incarnation as a major medical center, the Department of Medicine has been the backbone of patient care at Maimonides – and remains at the forefront of delivering the most advanced treatment modalities to the communities we serve.

The Department of Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center

Dr. Edgar Lichstein, Chair
Dr. David Cohen, Senior Vice Chair
Dr. Andrew Yacht, Vice Chair and Director, General Internal Medicine
Dr. Barbara Paris, Vice Chair and Director, Geriatrics
Dr. Alan Astrow, Director, Hematology/Oncology
Dr. Penina Burnstein, Director, Dermatology
Dr. Edward Chapnick, Director, Infectious Diseases
Dr. Alicia Gomensoro, Director, Blood Bank
Dr. Sheldon Greenberg, Director, Renal Diseases
Dr. Jocelyn Karam, Director, Endocrinology
Dr. Marshall Keilson, Director, Neurology
Dr. Jianjun Li, Director, Gastroenterology
Dr. Marie Normil, Director, Ambulatory Services
Dr. Beth Popp, Director, Palliative Care Medicine
Dr. Steven Rudolph, Director, Stroke Medicine
Dr. Carl Schiff, Director, Rheumatology
Dr. Jacob Shani, Director, Cardiology
Dr. Sidney Tessler, Director, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Dr. Ping Zhou, Director, Hospitalist Service


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