Carol Levine's life changed forever in 1990, when her husband, Howard, lost control of their car on an icy road. While she was unhurt, he suffered a severe brain injury that left him disabled and requiring 24-hour care -- care that suddenly, inexplicably, and bewilderingly became Levine's sole responsibility. "I was basically told, ‘He's yours now.' I wondered, Why did that feel wrong, and what could be done about it?"
To help answer that question -- for herself and millions of other Americans who serve as caretakers -- Levine, 74, a New Yorker who already had won a 1993 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for her work on AIDS policy and ethics, joined the United Hospital Fund in 1996 to direct the Families and Health Care Project.
In 2006, she introduced an ethics framework and policy agenda for family caregivers for New York state. Her latest campaign is Next Step in Care: Family Caregivers and Health Care Professionals Working Together. The soon-to-be-launched website, helps families transition between hospitals, rehabilitation units, and nursing homes. "I have a vision that when people become family caregivers that there is a coordinated system to guide them," says Levine, whose work has attracted national attention.