Allen I. Hyman was a premed student at Columbia University, majoring in chemistry and philosophy. After completing medical school, Dr. Hyman aspired to be a pediatrician and started his residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He began his academic career at Columbia-Presbyterian in 1965. Within two years he became the co-director of the newly established neonatal intensive care unit and slowly changed the management of premature newborns with respiratory distress syndrome.
When Dr. Hyman returned to Columbia from a sabbatical at the University of California San Francisco, he become the co-director of the new surgical intensive care unit at the Presbyterian Hospital. His research focused on the metabolic changes of the critically ill, developing new methods of nourishing nutritionally depleted, traumatized patients.
In 1987 Dr. Hyman was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy fellowship in Washington, DC. Senator Bob Dole, the Republican Leader and a presidential candidate at the time, invited Dr. Hyman to join his staff as a health aide. Two measures that Dr. Hyman worked on were particularly rewarding. A law expanding Medicare to include drug benefits was signed by President Ronald Reagan. And for the first time, research for AIDS was funded by Congress. Senator Dole was among the first Republican senators to support the funding.
In 1993, the Presbyterian Hospital’s trustees recruited a new senior administration. Dr. Hyman was appointed executive vice president, chief of staff, and medical director of the hospital. During a time of dramatically changing health finance environment, the hospital was on the verge of bankruptcy. By installing sweeping changes in reimbursement and practice procedures, the hospital’s financial plight was stabilized within a couple of years. Care was expanded for residents in the underserved community of Washington Heights, a new children’s hospital was planned and built, and a merger took place with New York Hospital. The newly created NewYork-Presbyterian soon became one of the best hospitals in America.
A pioneer in intensive care practice, Dr. Hyman has endowed the Allen I. Hyman, MD Professorship in Anesthesiology/Critical Care at Columbia. In 2017 Columbia University awarded him an Honorary Degree in Science.