Dr. Bernard Ludwig, a longtime obstetrician/gynecologist at Mount Sinai Hospital who died at age 89 on Erev Rosh Hashanah, will be remembered for his dedication to medicine and his devotion to his patients.
Before giving up his obstetrics practice at age 75 – he worked as a gynecologist and general practitioner until age 86 – he delivered 20,000 babies.
Ludwig, a Toronto native who graduated from University of Toronto in 1945, served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps and then began his obstetrics practice in 1950, when Mount Sinai was in a small house on Yorkville Avenue.
In his eulogy, Ludwig’s son-in-law Mark Gwartz, said that his father-in-law’s life was medicine, but he had no use for the politics of the hospital or organized medicine.
“He was entirely focused on patient care and providing the best quality and appropriate treatment. His compassion and understanding of the human condition, his sixth sense of wisdom and experience, his analytical skill and technical surgical expertise, are what set him apart from his colleagues.
“He would give each patient as much time as they needed to discuss a problem. His reputation was built on the premise that he was always available and would be there for the delivery.”
Gwartz said a typical day for Ludwig began at 5 a.m., and he returned home about 7 or 8 p.m. to return patients’ calls, often until 11 p.m. “That is unless there was a patient in labour, in which case he would catch a power nap in an empty hospital bed.”
What is remarkable, Gwartz said, is that he kept this pace for more than 40 years.
Among the honours given to him was the Bernard Ludwig Fellowship in Maternal/Fetal medicine created at University of Toronto/Mount Sinai Hospital, and in 2009, a fellowship was set up at Herzog Hospital in Israel to train immigrant Ethiopian nurses.
Gwartz said that aside from medicine, Ludwig was a devoted husband, father of four and grandfather of 13. “He always treasured education. He would tap his head and say, ‘This is not a coconut. It is a cranium with a brain. Use it.’
“He set the bar high for all of them, and he would always tell his patients how proud he was of their accomplishments,” Gwartz said.
Irene Borins Ash, Ludwig’s niece, said her uncle touched people’s lives because he “sincerely cared for them. He made people feel special because they mattered to him. He listened to each patient, he listened to me. He helped me believe in myself, and he helped others believe in themselves.”
Ludwig is survived by his wife, Margaret Florence-Ludwig. He also leaves children Caren and Ryan Shoychet, Samuel and Katherine, Florence and Mark Gwartz, John and Marsha and 13 grandchildren.