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A student nurse at MGH in 1950s, she still recalls how Dr. Austen reassured her

Dr. W. Gerald Austen, the former longtime chief of surgical services at Massachusetts General Hospital, died Sept. 11 at 92. He spent nearly seven decades as a surgeon and in leadership roles.Massachusetts General Hospital

Re “Dr. W. Gerald Austen, 1930-2022: For decades, a giant at MGH and in medical community” (Page A1, Sept. 14): As a student nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital in the 1950s, I was assigned the care of one of Dr. Austen’s patients. As I helped her to take a few steps, as ordered, she suddenly collapsed and died.

I was asked to await Dr. Austen. After commenting on the shared trauma of witnessing a sudden death, he reassured me that following his instructions was entirely correct — that tough things happened to all in the medical field.

I will never forget his supportive, thoughtful kindness.


Judie Muggia


The writer is a retired nurse.