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Michael G. Guttenberg, MD, remembered as 9/11 responder, dedicated physician


Michael G. Guttenberg, MD, an emergency services leader at Northwell Health and a Fire Department of New York (FDNY) first responder to the World Trade Center terror attacks on September 11, 2001, died Tuesday.

Dr. Guttenberg, of Jericho, NY, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at The Hospice Inn in Melville after a nearly four-and-a-half-year fight, his family said. He was 50. Despite the diagnosis, Dr. Guttenberg continued to serve as medical director of Northwell Health's clinical preparedness and Center for Emergency Medical Services (CEMS) to the end.

"Dr. Guttenberg has been a leader in hospitals and emergency medical services organizations across New York State," said John D'Angelo, MD, executive director and senior vice president of Northwell's Emergency Medicine Service Line. "Above all, he was a dedicated physician, a leader in the emergency medicine field and a mentor to many. I am thankful to have known Mike as a friend and a colleague. He committed his life to the service of others, setting a high bar for performance, even in the most difficult of situations."

As an FDNY EMS fellow in 2001, Dr. Guttenberg "worked the pile" at Ground Zero in the weeks after 9/11. His death is being attributed to "World Trade Center-related illness" and an FDNY honor guard will play taps at his funeral Thursday at Gutterman's Funeral Home in Woodbury, LI. The Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps, where Dr. Guttenberg got his start as a teenager, will transport the body for burial at Old Montefiore Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens.

"Mike spent more than 30 years delivering emergency medical services in the City of New York as an EMT, paramedic field provider and physician," said Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. "Mike responded to the World Trade Center terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and worked 'the pile.' As we all know now, the site's dust and smoke was laden with dangerous organic material and countless toxicants such as jet fuel, PCBs, dioxins and pulverized glass, drywall and cement. When he developed pancreatic cancer at age 46, despite a healthy lifestyle and no prior risk factors, Mike attributed his diagnosis to 'Ground Zero illness' – the health fallout experienced by many first responders and volunteers."

Dr. Guttenberg, the fourth of five children, grew up in East Northport and graduated from Commack North High School. He received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Brandeis University and earned his medical degree from New York Institute of Technology's New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"We will always remember Michael for his big heart, his big smile and his love for his family. He will be sorely missed," said his sister, Abbie Youkilis, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

He is survived by four siblings: Abbie Youkilis (spouse John Youkilis); Ira Guttenberg (spouse Paula Joyce), of North Carolina; Fred Guttenberg (spouse Jennifer Guttenberg), of Florida; and Paul Guttenberg (spouse Ellyn Guttenberg), of Commack; Parents: Marvin and Ethel Guttenberg, of Ohio; along with eight nieces and nephews.

At Dr. Guttenberg's request, a memorial fund has been established to benefit paramedics with aspirations to attend medical school. Please mail your donation to: Northwell Health Foundation, 2000 Marcus Ave., New Hyde Park, NY 11042. (In the memo section of the check, please indicate that the gift is in memory of Michael Guttenberg.)

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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State's largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals, over 550 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. We care for more than two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 62,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and 3,900 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We're making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit

Jason Molinet
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