Lewis L. Levy, M.D. died February 18, 2009 at the age of 87. Clinical Professor of Neurology at Yale University, Dr. Levy had joined the faculty in 1954 and remained active in teaching and patient care for more than 50 years. He was the first Chief of Neurology at the VA Center and although his primary interest was in stroke, he played a major role in obtaining funding, staff and equipment for the start-up of the Yale VA Epilepsy Center in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Following Medical School at Temple University he took neurology training at the University of Louisville with Dr. Ephraim Roseman and at Cornell in New York City. On completion of training he joined the faculty at Yale and became the first Chief of Neurology at the newly opened West Haven VA Hospital. The section steadily grew under his leadership and soon became an independent service. At one point the Neurology Service with support from Neurosurgery boasted some 65 beds for acute and chronic neurological diseases. The West Haven VA always served as a primary site for the Neurology/Neurosurgery Residents and Yale Medical student teaching. In the late 1960’s he and Gilbert Glaser, Professor and Chair of Neurology envisioned development of both an Epilepsy and a Stroke Center at Yale. Working closely with Warren Huber, M.D., Chief of Neurology at the VA, Central Office, funding was obtained to make these programs possible. Richard Mattson, M.D. was recruited to develop the Epilepsy Center . Dr. Levy’s unrelenting efforts led to staffing and technology unequalled in few if any Epilepsy Units in the world. Dr. Levy also formed a Stroke Unit. He designed a four bed unit with capability to monitor both clinical and polygraphic data (EKG, EEG, BP, vital signs). A dedicated nursing staff, neuropsychologist, and social worker in addition to neurology residents were part of the team. This pioneering unit led to visits from visitors both nationally and internationally.
Perhaps Dr. Levy’s greatest legacy is a legion of neurologists who trained at Yale including many Department Chairs. His dedication to training continued well into his 80’s and he faithfully attended morning report at Yale New Haven Hospital at 7:30 AM and grand rounds. He was always very demanding of the residents and expected them to “think”! Although not always appreciated at the time, they later realized what an important role model he was. He also worked with Yale Medical students and served as a member of the Admissions Committee for many years.
He was an outstanding clinical neurologist who relied on his ears, eyes and brain rather than laboratory studies to fashion a diagnosis. Although demanding of neurology residents he was a gentle lovable man to his patients and their families as well as the lab techs, secretaries and other support staff. He was widely admired by internists, surgeons and others and was elected President of Yale New Haven Hospital Medical Staff, a unique honor