Harborview Legend Stepping Down from ER

Dr. Michael Copass, the legendary figure who helped develop the Medic One program, is stepping down from his position as head of Harborview Medical Center's Emergency Services. With Medic One and the Harborview ER under Copass' direction for roughly three decades, Seattle came to be viewed as the national leader in emergency medical services.

Copass is resigning as part of a "semi-retirement" says Johnese Spisso, Vice President of Medical Affairs with UW Medicine. "He'll be reducing his position from 100% to about 60%." Copass will remain director of Medic One and be involved in the implementation of a future emergency medicine training program. (An irony of Copass' tenure is that he is not trained in, nor does the UW offer training in emergency medicine, a discipline that emerged roughly 25 years ago. Harborview's lack of emergency medicine doctors has been a source of discontent among residents and emergency medicine specialists. See here and here.)

Copass has built a reputation not just for his innovations but also for his work ethic, devotion to patients, and sometimes difficult personality. (Read this P.I. profile for more.) "He's so committed to working 100 hours a week, he'd do it forever," says Spisso, who explains that the hospital has been working with Copass for several months to find a way for him to cut back and spend more time with his family, per their request. "He does the work of four people. He's amazing--he's the mission of Harborview."

As of the time of posting, a call to Copass seeking comment had not been returned.

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