Dr. William Oh

Inducted: 2021
Born: 1930

Dr. William Oh is one of the pioneers in neonatology. He has devoted his career to groundbreaking research, expanding patient care to improve the survival and out­ comes of high-risk preterm and term infants, and mentoring physicians in training.

Dr. Oh was recruited in 1974 to be the Director of Perinatal Medicine at Providence Lying-In Hospital. At that time, Providence Lying-In had 5000 deliveries, a staff of 60 obstetricians, and a premature nursery. There was no Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). At the time, Boston Children’s Hospital had a NICU, so the sickest babies were transferred to Boston. Dr. Oh saw the opportunity to develop a state-of- the-art NICU for Rhode Island. He was committed to developing a regional program. As pediatricians saw the trans­ formation, they began to refer sick newborns to the Providence Lying-In. Within one year the number of transports to its NICU rose from 5 to 300. He was committed to growth and excellence, and in 1986, Women & Infants Hospital, successor to Providence Lying-In, opened a new 30-bed NICU that was connected to Rhode Island Hospital.

During his first fifteen years as Chief of Neonatology, Dr. Oh built two NICUs, conducted research, published, trained fellows, and maintained a high NICU census. In 1989 the Board of Trustees of Rhode Island Hospital convinced Dr. Oh to take over the chairmanship of Pediatrics at Rhode Island Hospital. When asked what he needed, he asked for the opportunity to develop a new children’s hospital. The board concurred, and the Hasbro Children’s Hospital opened in 1994.

With the opening of that modern facility, patient volume increased rapidly. He expanded the hospital faculty from 20 to 80 and its residents from 8 to 72. In 2003, he stepped down as chairman and transitioned back to neonatology and research.

During his career he mentored 53 neonatal fellows from around the globe, authored over 443 papers, and 59 book chapters, and lectured widely. It is hard to imagine a neonatologist who has had a more positive and lasting influence.

Dr. Oh was honored in 1995 with the Virginia Apgar award from the American Academy of Pediatrics as an individual whose career had a continuing influence on the well-being of new­ born infants. He was also induct­ ed into the NEO Legends of Neonatology Hall of Fame in 2012. A manuscript, “Reflections on the Early Years of Neonatology” published in 2019 in the Journal of Perinatology, calls Dr. Oh “a neonatal pioneer who devoted his career to groundbreaking research, expanding patient care, and mentoring others”. Currently, Dr. Oh is the Sylvia Kay Hassenfeld Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Brown University Medical School.

Dr. Oh is an accomplished academic physician with an exceptional history of mentor­ ship and leadership. He was the primary driver for the development and expansion of the premier Neonatology Program at Women & Infants Hospital and an outstanding chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Hasbro Children’s Hospital He has served as an exemplary pioneer, innovator, advisor, administrator, teacher, and mentor. I am honored to have nominated Dr. William Oh for membership in the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

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