The Collective

Col•lec•tive (n) \kə-ˈlék-tiv (n.): “Parts assembled into or viewed as a whole”

Friday, May 6, 2011

Meet Gil Wernovsky MD, on piano

Dr. Wernovsky is the Director of Program Development at The Cardiac Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Associate Chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology. He is the former director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and now the Medical Director of the newly-created NeuroCardiac Care Program.

Dr. Wernovsky received his undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and Music from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA in 1978. While in college, he was a member of “Live Music Band”, toured throughout New England and was the opening act for George Benson in 1977. He has performed solo piano works live, as well as on NPR in Boston, and has kept performing and composing music as an important part of his life since the age of 7. Along with an international group of now over 50 cardiologists, surgeons, nurses and support staff, he formed the “Baby Blue Sound Collective” in 2007.

He is a passionate advocate for his patients and their families; his research has centered on evaluating and improving the long-term quality of life for children born with complex congenital heart disease. He is on the advisory boards of a number of parent and patient support groups, including The Congenital Heart Information Network, Little Hearts, Inc. and The Children’s Heart Foundation. He has been involved in the training of nearly 100 pediatric cardiologists, and particularly enjoys teaching trainees, nurses and families.

He has been married to his high school sweetheart Lauren since 1982, and has two lovely children - one of whom - Simon, began performing with the BBSC in 2011.


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Who We Are

The Baby Blue Sound Collective is an ensemble featuring pediatric cardiologists, surgeons, nurses, therapists and other medical professionals from Children's Hospitals around the world. In their day jobs, most of the group takes care of children with heart disease; but most are also researchers, educators and lecturers. Past and present members hail from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Japan, South Africa, France and Norway, as well as over 15 different cardiovascular programs in the USA. The members of BBSC have found each other through a mutual interest in providing medical and nursing care for children and their families, as well as a love of music and the performing arts.

The BBSC has performed at many of the pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery medical conferences throughout the USA and Europe. The personnel are different for each and every performance, depending upon the location of the particular meeting and the performers who are on the course faculty or attending the meeting (see history). Performances have contained as few as three and as many as 30 members. The set lists and genres are then chosen based upon the composition of ‘the collective” and are as diverse as the members, including classical, jazz, pop, musical theater, blues and rock.

Music, Health Care and Advocacy for Congenital Heart Disease

Gil Wernovsky MD, Jeffrey Boris MD and Tom Karl MD organize the Collective, and together work with charities and patient groups that benefit children and young adults with heart disease. Congenital Heart Disease affects 1 in 100 children, is the leading cause of death from birth defects in infants, and is more common than juvenile diabetes, cystic fibrosis and all forms of childhood cancer—combined. Over 11,000 children under one year of age require open heart surgery in the US alone, many of whom must stay in a hospital setting for weeks to months.

One of the missions of the BBSC is to support the children and their families in a “holistic” fashion. In addition to performing open heart surgery and other high-tech and intense treatments in our ‘day jobs’; we support grass roots organizations who provide aid and support to families going through the toughest times of their lives. Originally inspired by the efforts of Mona and Seth Barmash from The Congenital Heart Information Network ( and Spencer’s Fund (, proceeds from our recorded music and performances will directly benefit important efforts not traditionally covered by medical bills: social services, care packages, child life, financial assistance for families far from home, and important therapies for hospitalized children (including music!).

While great strides have been made in caring for children with heart problems, many of which were fatal just 1-2 generations ago, there remain many questions about longer term outcomes. How will the children fare as they go through school? What are the challenges they will face? What are their strengths, and how may these be improved? The BBSC remains committed to helping to answer these questions: by tirelessly pursuing improved treatments in our ‘day jobs’, and by using our musical resources and international networking to support research aimed at improving quality of life for children and young adults with CHD.