Building the Institute of tomorrow

Foundation, in collaboration with Dr. Peter Guerra, Chief of Medicine and Cardiology at the Montreal Heart Institute

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This article is adapted from the Foundation’s magazine

“Peter, there’s a cardiac arrest in the ER. C’mon, let’s go!” When Dr. Peter Guerra worked in internal medicine, a senior resident grabbed him to help out with an emergency cardiac procedure. As is often the case when the heart is involved, someone’s life was on the line. At that exact moment, he knew he had found his calling.

Helping people and their families is what drives him every day. In fact, the Chief of Medicine and Cardiology for the past eight years talks about his work with a passion that’s truly infectious.

“Choosing a career in medicine is kind of like wanting to be a superhero,” he said with a smile as he turned towards a picture of Batman hanging on his office wall. “Which explains why I put this picture up behind me.”

Building the Institute of tomorrow

An electrophysiologist by training, he plays a leadership role at the Institute, which means he has a hand in major projects.

For instance, Dr. Guerra is very excited about the Investing in Excellence plan to modernize the hospital’s facilities, as it will allow the Institute to maintain its commitment to excellence on every level, namely by adding a medical intensive care unit, a surgical intensive care unit, and a new emergency department. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to rethink and design the physical space in which future approaches in cardiology will be practised,” he noted.

Training the next generation

Aside from his part in updating the hospital’s facilities, Dr. Guerra is also actively involved in shaping the next generation of doctors as they hone their skills at the Institute, to the benefit of its patients.

This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the progress of the fellows he’s been mentoring. However, they all adapted to the circumstances and worked miracles in their handling of the critical situation in the Institute’s emergency room, which, like so many others, was severely overcrowded.


As for the unprecedented public health crisis sweeping the world, Dr. Guerra has seen many people go above and beyond:

First, he commends the work of expert researchers, who have had to overcome huge logistical challenges. With patients being more reluctant to participate because of the pandemic, it’s been harder to conduct clinical trials.

He also applauds the valiant healthcare workers who’ve been on the front lines of intensive care for the last several months.

“It’s not only the patient’s life that’s in danger, but their own as well. It takes a lot of courage, and I’m inspired by their determination.

It’s humbling,” he explained, in obvious admiration of these highly dedicated people who are real-life superheroes.

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