Former colleagues, friends and family gathered recently to remember Sol Bernstein, MD, Class of 1956, who died April 7. Bernstein, professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was the longest-serving medical director of Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, leading the staff there from 1974 to 1994.
Fond remembrances were plentiful at the event, which took place June 26 at Mayer Auditorium on the Health Sciences Campus. Allen Mathies, MD, PhD, dean emeritus of the Keck School, served as the master of ceremonies for the memorial.
“His warmth and friendship will always be one of my greatest memories,” Mathies said, reflecting on his decades-long friendship and professional relationship with Bernstein. The two met in 1961, a year after Bernstein became a full-time faculty member at the Keck School.
“Sol was more than multitasking in those days,” said Donald Feinstein, MD, MACP, emeritus professor of medicine. “He was not only assistant chair of the department of medicine, but he was also a wonderful clinician and teacher.”
Phil Manning, MD, Class of 1948, emeritus professor of preventive medicine, met Bernstein in 1954. Manning recalled Bernstein’s intelligence and skill as a student and physician, but also his ability to empathize.
“I think you’ll agree, those of you that knew Sol later on, he did have a way of knowing how you felt about things. I appreciated that a number of times.” He went on to say, “Sol was a great man, a great friend, and we’re all going to miss him.”
Bernstein earned a national reputation as a cardiologist during his tenure as medical director of LAC+USC, and was at the forefront of revolutionizing comprehensive health care, including creating LAC+USC’s first hospital ethics committee.
“The house staff needed to think about issues beyond just prescribing and diagnosing,” Bernstein said in a 1994 profile in the Los Angeles Times. “They had to begin weighing other ‘quality of life’ considerations such as how the family feels, how informed is a patient’s consent when he’s worried, in pain or heavily medicated?”
Robert Tranquada, MD, emeritus professor of family medicine and public administration and former medical school dean, spoke of how important LAC+USC was to Bernstein, and how integral to the growth of the medical center and school he was.
“He loved the county hospital, no questions about that,” Tranquada said. “His heart and soul were totally dedicated to it. Sol was deeply appreciated by the medical staff, by all of us, and no one could have asked for a more talented and thoughtful associate.”
— Amanda Busick