To honor the legacy of Edward B. Bromfield, MD, a superb clinical neurologist, mentor, gifted teacher and research collaborator, the Brigham and Women’s Division of Epilepsy has renamed their epilepsy program, which he created nearly two decades ago.
The newly named Edward B. Bromfield Epilepsy Program was founded by Dr. Bromfield in 1993 so that leading epilepsy specialists across disciplines could work together to offer the best possible care to patients in a comprehensive, coordinated fashion. A tribute to Dr. Bromfield was held at BWH December 7, 2009. Click here to view a video "A Visual Tribute to Ed Bromfield".
Dr. Bromfield was Chief of the Division of Epilepsy, EEG and Sleep Neurology until his death in 2009. His passion for improving the lives of people with epilepsy was an inspiration to his colleagues at BWH and medical professionals interested in epilepsy throughout New England and across the country. He is remembered for being a masterful clinician and teacher, a compassionate and energetic doctor and as someone with an enormous heart.
“He was a fierce advocate for patients and worked tirelessly here at the hospital and in the community, volunteering his time to help patients with epilepsy,” said Barbara Dworetzky, MD, who succeeds Dr. Bromfield as division chief. “But, most of all, he treated everyone with great kindness and respect and was loved for who he was as a person, as well as a physician.”
“We are naming our program after him to pay tribute to his legacy and honor the many patients we see who remind us of his great dedication and determination. We want to keep his spirit alive here forever,” she said.
Patients were his top priority, and Dr. Bromfield was devoted to them. He earned the prestigious J. Kiffin Perry Award for Excellence in Epilepsy Care in 2007 from the American Epilepsy Society.
His large following of devoted patients at BWH attests to that. “Dr. Bromfield saved my life,” one of his patients wrote in a nomination for the award. “He did the basic tests, but then we developed this unspoken language…he didn’t just give me medications, he understood what it means to have epilepsy.”
Dr. Bromfield always expressed his genuine concern for each of his patients and served as an example to his colleagues. “His incredible memory for patients was legendary,” said Tracey Milligan, MD, director of the Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital Epilepsy/EEG Program. “He listened and remembered specific details about patients he hadn’t seen in years.”
Even beyond hospital walls, Dr. Bromfield’s passion for serving those with epilepsy manifested itself in a way that touched the lives of hundreds of children. In 1999, he and his colleagues founded Camp Wee-Kan-Tu, the first overnight summer camp solely for children with epilepsy. This enormous effort was a collaboration between Dr. Bromfield, social workers from BWH and the staff and leadership of the Epilepsy Foundation of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, for which he served as president for several years. Dr. Bromfield, who served as the camp’s medical director for many years, took a personal interest in making the children’s experience unforgettable. He often joined the kids in shooting hoops, playing baseball or singing around the campfire.
Dr. Bromfield authored and co-authored many thoughtful papers and chapters, advancing the understanding of epilepsy. His areas of interest included new drug development, neuroimaging, status epilepticus and epilepsy surgery. Among his other areas of expertise were the diagnosis and treatment of non-epileptic seizures; sleep and epilepsy; quality of life for people with epilepsy; and the effects of maternal drug treatment on pregnancy and fetal outcomes. He was frequently invited to speak around the United States and internationally.
Dr. Bromfield was a role model for neurology fellows, residents and medical students, as he demonstrated the ideal life balance in his devotion to family and friends, jazz and sports. He was beloved by his fellows, many of whom stayed close to continue to work and be inspired by him. In 2005, he won Co-mentor of the Year from the Harvard Partners’ Neurology Residents for his open-door policy, which his residents loved to take advantage of. He was honored again by the Harvard Partners’ Neurology Residents, who chose him as Teacher of the Year in 2007.
His mentorship, sense of humor and contributions to epilepsy care and research have left an indelible mark on BWH and throughout the field of neurology. In a two-page memoriam that appeared in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, Orrin Devinsky, MD, professor of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine wrote: “Ed Bromfield was a truly loved colleague, mentor, and friend to many in neurology, epilepsy and other communities. A gentle giant, he was equal parts compassion, passion, and intelligence. One could not find a better friend or a better doctor.”