College of American Pathologists
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  In Memoriam - S. Victor Savino, MD, 1931–2011


CAP Today




May 2011
Feature Story

S. Victor Savino, MD, a former member of the CAP Board of Governors and past president of the American Pathology Foundation, died March 10 of cardiac failure. Dr. Savino, 79, served on the CAP Board from 1991 to 1997, chaired the CAP Council on Public Affairs (1993–1997) and the Credentials Committee (1992–1995), and was a longtime member of the Finance Committee.

Dr. Savino served as chief pathologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Albuquerque and at Miners’ Colfax Medical Center in Raton, NM, which he joined in 2001, eight years into what turned out to be a temporary retirement. He then became vice president of medical affairs at Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, a position he held until 2010, when he re-retired.

In 1972 Dr. Savino co-founded S.E.D. Medical Laboratories (the “S” is for Savino and the other two letters for the other founders), which provided pathology services to hospitals throughout New Mexico.

During his CAP Board and committee work, Dr. Savino had an ability to notice hidden problems or challenges behind the seemingly benign surface of government or insurance company policies, says Daniel J. Hanson, MD, a retired pathologist who, like Dr. Savino, was a CAP governor and president of the American Pathology Foundation.

“He had this ability to see behind the doors, to make people aware of the fact that some of these do-good things that we heard about might have some unpleasant side effects,” Dr. Hanson says. “He was particularly good at, you might say, discussion and negotiations when people were rather far apart in their attitudes. He was very thoughtful in his deliberations and his actions.”

Dr. Savino’s work for the CAP included being a member of the Council on Education and Membership Services, Council on Government and Professional Affairs, and the SNOMED International Authority.

“He was a classic example of what the CAP wants pathologists to do,” says James Navin, MD, of Cytopathology Inc., Honolulu, who knew Dr. Savino through the CAP and the APF. “He always, from the pathology side and the management side, tried to do the right thing for the right reasons. That’s a commodity we could use a lot more of. He didn’t go out and create testing samples that were not necessary, in order to make money. He did things to improve patient care.”

A native of Northampton, Mass., Dr. Savino earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and served two years in the U.S. Army before earning his medical degree in 1964 from the University of Vermont, where he completed his internship and residency.

Thomas D. Trainer, MD, pathologist at the University of Vermont, met Dr. Savino in 1965 and “knew him for about five years, pretty well, as a student resident.” Dr. Trainer still has an old file that indicates: “When he was in high school, he was interested in music, he was interested in golf—which he was until the bitter end—and then he was interested in drama, which I didn’t believe.”

Dr. Trainer says evaluations of Dr. Savino during his residency echoed throughout his career: “Very mature, very bright, very industrious, and a hard worker. They all said the same thing. That’s the way he was, as a resident with us and subsequently in his career. That’s the way he behaved for the next 50 years. He was very steady, very predictable, very reliable, and an outstanding person and physician.”

Dr. Savino threw himself into life with the same passion he had for his work, recalls Dr. Trainer, who visited with him on occasion in his later years. “He liked to eat, he liked to drink, he liked to gamble,” Dr. Trainer says. “He liked to love and to be loved.”

Dr. Navin also remembers Dr. Savino’s hard-playing side. “He liked good red wine, and he introduced me to it,” Dr. Navin says. “To avoid the terrible hangovers, I started having a glass of red wine each evening with dinner, so I could be ready for him. It worked well.

“He was an exceptional individual. He’ll be missed.”