A retired South Bay doctor who’s lived in Palos Verdes most of his adult life was recently honored with a hospital display commemorating his groundbreaking work in coronary care.
For 50 years, until he retired in 2002, cardiologist Milford G. Wyman pioneered care for heart patients: his coronary care unit in San Pedro was one of the first in the country.
And on Oct. 25, the retired physician, now 90, was honored with an eight-panel wall display titled “A Legacy of Heart Care” at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, the facility formerly known as San Pedro Peninsula Hospital.
A group of about 75 people attended the hour-long ceremony, including some of Wyman’s former colleagues and his son Michael Wyman, 61, who’s also a cardiologist.
The eight panels represent chronological snapshots of significant moments in Wyman’s and the hospital’s cardiology history, beginning in 1966 – when he founded the hospital’s Coronary Care Unit – and continuing through the next five decades. It includes the creation of the San Pedro Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that Wyman co-founded, raising more than $8 million in 1968 to pay for equipment for the now-defunct coronary care unit.
Also among the commemorated achievements and firsts: the then-groundbreaking use of paramedics as the first people to administer certain medications to patients en route to the hospital; and Wyman’s usage of balloons to open coronary arteries, which became standard therapy for the treatment of heart attacks.
Wyman received his medical doctorate with honors from the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine in 1953 and later served a residency in internal medicine at the University of Southern California, followed by a fellowship in cardiology at USC. In 1959, he became the director of cardiology at the then-San Pedro Peninsula Hospital. Today, he’s credited with advancing treatment of patients with heart attacks, utilizing a team approach that recognized nurses as key leaders in life-saving care.
“Nurses could use their brains instead of just being handmaidens for the doctors,” Wyman said. “I was delighted to be a part of that change; it was really a hospital achievement.”
“He completely uplifted (nurses), their status and their role,” medical center spokesman Andrew Werts said. “Nurses play a crucial role in healthcare today.”
The pioneering efforts by Wyman and others eventually led to the incidence of sudden death at San Pedro falling to just one percent, compared to an average of 10 to 15 percent in hospitals across the U.S.
“He was truly a pioneer,” Werts said.