Thursday, June 6, 2013 12:03 PM

Rich history through the eyes of pioneering physicians

How lucky we were at Community Medical Foundation recently!  Katie Zenovich, Executive Director, and I  hosted a luncheon at our office for very special guests who helped mold Community Regional Medical Center into the world-class hospital it is today. Many of you may remember them and the compassionate work they did for so many years – Eugene Lowe, M.D., J. Malcolm Masten, M.D., “Sam” Sathaporn Vathayanon, M.D., Joseph Woo Jr, M.D., Burton James, M.D.

They were leaders in their fields of specialties – internal medicine, cardiology, cardiac surgery and ophthalmology. Oh, the stories they shared about attending medical schools (literally over 60 years ago) and returning to Fresno to take care of our community. Stories about office sharing, house calls, and the first open heart surgery in the area that Dr. Sam performed. They were amazed how our specialty areas - or care lines as we call them now - have advanced over the years.

A couple of these fine physicians and lifelong colleagues have not seen each other for many years. But it was as though time stood still listening to them as they enjoyed conversations of years past and how they worked together in a different time. When we shared with them some Historical Highlights of Community  they reminisced about the early Burnett Sanitarium and key dates like 1959 when then Fresno Community Hospital opened the 204 bed 5-story building. Or in 1979 when it merged with Clovis Memorial Hospital, renaming it to Clovis Community Hospital.

These physicians are humble but we remember all they have done for us. We took the opportunity that day to thank them each individually for their generous philanthropic gifts – starting in 1968 – that helped in areas such as nurse education, Terry’s House, Burn Services, Cardiology, Oncology, Clovis Expansion and more.

Following a wonderful meal our Community Regional’s Dining Services provided, our Security Department friends provided transportation and escorted our group to the trauma and critical care building. We went all the way to the top where these gentlemen were able to view Fresno from the helipad where about four times a day, patients are flown in to our Level 1Trauma team for emergency care.

As they looked around the cityscape from this rooftop view, they were so proud of the city of Fresno, proud of the evolution to Community Regional, and proud of the early and significant roles they played in providing health care above all. It is on their shoulders we stand today and we owe them some gratitude for paving the way for our great medical centers, physicians, nurses, staff and capabilities.

You will still see them from time to time at Community Regional, often on Tuesdays for Cardiac Grand Rounds. Please stop and say hello and thank them for their love of Community over the years.

Jan Paul
Donor Relations Officer