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Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro watched from Palm Beach, Fla., via live video as Ashley Herman cut the ceremonial red ribbon Wednesday evening to dedicate the cardiovascular center named in honor of her great-grandparents.
That moment drew rousing applause from hundreds of hospital leaders, supporters, donors and friends during the grand opening celebration. This event, held in Shapiro’s glass-lined East Lobby, marked the culmination of four years of planning and construction with classical music and heart-healthy dishes prepared by chefs from the Culinary Institute of America. A bustling construction site in recent weeks, the Shapiro Center was transformed into a warm, state-of-the-art care facility complete with artwork on the walls.
“The two words that come to mind tonight are inspiration and gratitude,” said BWH President Gary Gottlieb, MD, MBA, as he welcomed guests, including Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Thank you on behalf of our patients and the 15,000 people who make up the Brigham and Women’s Hospital community.”
Wednesday’s celebration and ribbon-cutting were at the heart of a week of festivities to mark this milestone, beginning with an ice cream sundae party that drew hundreds on Monday. Gov. Deval Patrick toured Shapiro and the Tower on Tuesday morning (see related story on page 1), and that evening, cardiovascular leadership gathered for a celebration in the Shapiro Center Lobby. At week’s end, hundreds of BWH employees from across the hospital lined up to be among the first to cross over the bridge and tour the new center.
Menino proclaimed April 30, 2008, as Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Day in Boston and shared what the center’s opening means for the city. “From offering free health screenings in the community to its leadership in the nationally recognized Disparities Project, the Brigham is changing the very face of health care,” he said. “The Shapiro Center enhances that reputation.”
The night before, Gottlieb celebrated with an exuberant crowd of cardiovascular team members. “Thank you for being a team that holds together through difficult challenges to bring special things to this hospital,” he said. “This is all inspired by you and your vision.”
Video clips featuring moving patient testimonials and hospital and cardiovascular leadership and others played at intervals throughout the speaking programs. During one of three video presentations, Carl J. Shapiro, who was unable to attend the event, spoke of his vision for the center. “If we can help people to live longer and better, then I think we’ve accomplished what we want,” he said.
Among the many special guests at Wednesday’s event were Karen and Chris Watkins, for whom the Watkins Cardiovascular Clinic is named. In addition to financial support, the Watkins have shared their time and expertise with BWH, and Karen is the co-chair of the Cardiovascular Leadership Council and a member of the Trust Board.
Chief Medical Officer Andy Whittemore, MD, who was one of the creators of the BWH Vascular Center in 1984, reflected on the rich tradition of excellence at BWH upon which the Shapiro Center is built. “Throughout my years at BWH, as the practice of medicine has evolved, this hospital has always been at the forefront,” he said. “I can’t begin to describe my excitement in seeing this long held vision come to fruition in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center.”
Mairead Hickey, PhD, RN, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Patient Care Services, who began her nursing career at the Peter Bent Brigham in 1972, added, “What hasn’t changed over the years is the dedication and caring of the people who work here. Many people were consulted during the planning for this building, resulting in a facility with unique features that allow us to offer the absolute best in patient-centered care.”
The location of cardiovascular services in one building is unique to BWH, said Ken Baughman, MD, director of the Advanced Heart Disease Section. “At this point in time, the Shapiro Center is the number one cardiovascular center in the world, but we cannot rest on this,” he said. “This is not the end; this is only the beginning of our work.”
The impact the Shapiro Center will make extends well beyond cardiovascular care. “Day two is the beginning of a transformation of the Tower,” said Gottlieb, adding that, in time, 85 percent of patients rooms will be private. “It’s all about the patients, the future of health care and medicine, and you are defining it.”