Peter Castaldi was a man who played many parts in the Westmead Story – all of them important and all of them achieved with the consummate skill and attention to detail that all who knew him expected.
First and foremost our inaugural Professor of Medicine – responsible for medical care when the hospital first opened our doors.
Peter set the tone – high quality care, high quality education and high quality research combined in one setting in the west of Sydney where there had been only small local district hospital care before it.
He set about the most exciting clinical recruitment campaign of the century to build the heads of the departments, in combination with Professor Miles Little in Surgery.
They pulled people from far and wide to create a hospital from a trotting racetrack. That this task was achieved was evident to all within ten years as Westmead changed the NSW health care environment.
Peter held both research and teaching dear to his heart and with the University alignments assured, in collaboration with Professor Stephen Leeder, he took on the role of first Professor of Research Medicine until that role was funded and Professor Tony Cunningham appointed.
Moving quietly behind the scenes during the middle and late 1990’s Peter supported the establishment of WIMR, then Westmead Millennium Institute.
With this Institute carefully and safely launched Peter turned his attention back to Medicine and with Warwick Benson supported Geriatric medicine for many years, far from his first love of Haematology which had involved his first 30 years at Westmead and which had developed to an independent department of such substance that it has become the premier haematology unit in the state.
With retirement functions falling thick and fast Peter took on one last effort for healthcare in the West as Chair of the Board of Western Sydney Area Health Service until the creation of the combined SWAHS in the mid 2000’s.
Turbulent years that were safely negotiated thanks to Peter’s careful, erudite and balanced voice from the chair, this became his last great reinvention.
“In 1989 he received the Chevalier dans l’Ordre Nationale du Merite in recognition of his involvement in academic studies in France and his contributions to knowledge, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Paris “presumably for the same reasons.”
In 1992, Peter was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his services to medicine, particularly in the field of Haematosis and Thrombosis.
In 1994, he received the Medal of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians”.
Peter passed away after many months of ill health which he bore with dignity and privacy, to the end a distinguished physician, inspiring and thoughtful leader and a man to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude for creating the healthcare system in Western Sydney that we work in today.
Richard Alcock and Jeremy Chapman
Chair and Deputy Chair WSLHD Board.