Every year on May 5, health care professionals around the world recognize World Hand Hygiene Day, a global movement led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about the importance of hand hygiene in health care.
David N. Louis, MD, chief of Massachusetts General Hospital's Department of Pathology and Benjamin Castleman Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Robert H. Young, MD, a senior pathologist in the Department of Pathology and Robert E. Scully Professor of Pathology at HMS, have received the 2020 Patricia R. Austen, RN, MGH History Award. The award honors individuals or groups who have worked to promote or preserve Mass General history.
The two were honored for their extensive work in highlighting their department’s history, most notably by editing the 2011 book Keen Minds to Explore the Dark Continents of Disease: A History of the Pathology Services at the Massachusetts General Hospital (view a PDF of the book's preface here). The book’s 25 chapters and nearly 400 pages, written by 25 contributors, detail the notable figures and milestones from the earliest Mass General clinical laboratories in the mid-1800s to 2011. The book’s title is drawn from the conclusion of Joseph Garland’s 1961 history of Mass General, in which he praised the partnership between Mass General and HMS for creating an atmosphere that spurred clinicians to better understand disease.
In addition, they have authored more than 10 historical publications together and each has also published or lectured separately on historical topics related to the history of pathology in general.
"We are most honored to receive this award," says Young. "We thought it was most important to preserve the treasure trove of historical information about the department and hospital, carrying forward historical research done by some of our Mass General Pathology predecessors—Drs. Scully, Castleman and Vickery in particular. Most important, we hope that we have created a resource for future generations to study."
Adds Louis, “We were particularly gratified to receive the award in 2020, a year when Mass General Pathology has been at the forefront of responding to a new disease—thanks in no small part to our strong history in laboratory diagnostics.”
The award was first presented to Patricia R. Austen, RN, in 2018 for her efforts in identifying and preserving the art, artifacts and records that help tell the story of the progress and evolution of the hospital. Last year the award was given to the MGH Nursing History Committee for its publication of the book MGH Nursing at Two Hundred, the gathering of oral histories of more than 80 nurse leaders, and other achievements.
Louis and Young were chosen from among more than two dozen nominations. At a future date there will be a combined celebration for these 2020 winners as well as the 2021 winner(s).
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