In Memoriam (Bernard Adelson)
Bernard H. Adelson, MD, PhD, professor of clinical medicine, died March 5, 2005, of complications from surgery. He was 84 years old. A resident of Glencoe, Illinois, the internist was in many ways a philosopher at heart.
“Dr. Adelson was a skilled and beloved physician who truly brought humanism into everything he did,” says colleague James R. Webster Jr., MD, Michael A. Gertz Professor of Medicine. “He started a readings and discussion program at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare [ENH, where he had practiced since 1957] for housestaff and faculty members that emphasized the humanities in the everyday practice of medicine. He always considered the personal as well as scientific aspects of care.”
Adds Janardan D. Khandekar, MD, chair of medicine at ENH, “His legacy is in ethics—how we are to honor each other and our patients, and how patients come first. He emphasized that in his medical consultations, teachings, and lectures. He was a pioneer in that respect.”
A native of Tampa, Florida, Dr. Adelson earned his undergraduate and PhD degrees in organic chemistry at Northwestern University in 1941 and 1946, respectively. Hired on as instructor in chemistry at Northwestern, Dr. Adelson soon followed his keen interest in medicine and enrolled in medical school, earning his MD degree in 1951 from what is now Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He completed residency training at Evanston Hospital (1953) and Cook County Hospital in Chicago (1954).
Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. Adelson was founding chief of Evanston Hospital’s Division of Nephrology and director of the Chronic Dialysis Program. He started the first free-standing dialysis unit on Chicago’s North Shore, and when the hospital ran out of space to accommodate dialysis patients Dr. Adelson set up satellite dialysis sites in shopping centers to meet this need. Dr. Adelson also founded Evanston Hospital’s geriatrics unit and ENH’s Institutional Ethics Committee.
In 2000 the American College of PhysiciansâAmerican Society of Internal Medicine recognized Dr. Adelson’s contributions to the field, selecting him to receive the Ralph O. Claypoole Sr. Memorial Award for Devotion of a Career in Internal Medicine to the Care of Patients. When he received the award at age 79, Dr. Adelson continued to see patients at nursing homes and take call every third weekend. He and his late wife Martha also were devoted patrons of the arts and frequently attended performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Civic Orchestra.
Dr. Adelson is survived by sons Edward and David, daughter Duffie, and three grandchildren.