Richard J. Kitz, MD

Richard J. Kitz, MD

Richard J. Kitz, MD, led the Mass General Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine from 1969 to 1994. He passed away on September 19, 2017 at the age of 88. An innovative, thoughtful and highly effective administrator, Dr. Kitz pushed the boundaries of the discipline of anesthesia, understanding the value of integrating technology and expertise of other fields and improving the quality care for patients.

Dr. Kitz recruited a significant portion of the next generation of leaders in anesthesia and intensive care medicine to Mass General. Many became chairs of more than 20 major anesthesia departments in the United States and abroad. A beloved colleague, friend and mentor, Dr. Kitz was known for his warmth and loyalty toward the staff and especially residents, who he always considered part of his extended family.

His contributions to Mass General include:

  • The first respiratory intensive unit in the nation, established in 1961 under Henning Pontoppidan, MD
  • Building vital areas, including a blood-gas laboratory, led by Myron B. Laver, MD
  • A pediatric anesthesia team under John Ryan, MD
  • The first U.S. cardiac anesthesia team under Dr. Laver, followed by Edward Lowenstein, MD.

He was the author and co-author of over 100 publications. Dr. Kitz and his team were at the leading edge of a transformational time in anesthesia safety, re-defining the clinical practice nationally in a way that has saved thousands of lives. He also loved sailboat racing and won many races.

On behalf of a grateful hospital that is so much richer for Dr. Kitz’s many contributions and leadership, we extend heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. A memorial service is being planned for a later date.

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Henning Pontoppidan, MD

Henning Pontoppidan, MD

Henning Pontoppidan, MD, was a pioneer in the field of pulmonary intensive care and anesthesia. He passed away on October 20, 2017 at the age of 92. In 1961, he established the first intensive care unit in the country at Mass General. The Respiratory Intensive Care Unit (RICU) became a model for hospitals throughout the world.

Colleagues remember Dr. Pontoppidan warmly for his extraordinary intuition, wisdom and great kindness. He spent long hours with residents, fellows, medical students, nurses and respiratory therapists selflessly imparting his wisdom to the next generation of intensivists. Dr. Pontoppidan had an enormous influence on intensive care worldwide through his personal and professional relationships and his publications.

In 1988, Dr. Pontoppidan became the first Reginald Jenney Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Mass General, a chair endowed by one of his grateful patients. In 2011, on the hospital’s bicentennial, Dr. Pontoppidan’s accomplishments were recognized with the establishment of the Henning Pontoppidan Visiting Professorship.

His contributions to Mass General include:

  • In 1958 after his Army service, he joined Mass General and applied his expertise to surgical patients with respiratory failure
  • Established the six-bed RICI in Philips House 2 with specialized equipment and excellent physician and nursing staff

When not at Mass General, Dr. Pontoppidan enjoyed spending time with his artist wife, Yonna, and his family on Cliff Island, Maine, where he taught himself sailing and carpentry. Dr. Pontoppidan is survived by three daughters and two granddaughters. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.

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